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Detailed Book Review
Baseball Magic         
Baseball Magic
By Jay Martin
ISBN: 978-1-929763-35-1
Price: $14.95
Shipping: $4.00
Baseball Magic is a short fiction collection of eleven original baseball stories by Jay Martin.

Believing baseball to be an almost sacred event, author Jay Martin explores the game with a reverence for history, humor, wonder, joy, and occasionally with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Grab a beer and a hot dog with mustard and onions. Settle into your favorite armchair and open these pages for a provocative, entertaining read.

Baseball Magic is also available as an ebook on Amazon.com for the Kindle.

Jay Martin has taught English, Government, Humanities, and Psychiatry. He currently teaches at Claremont McKenna College in California.

Book Review Details:
Reviewed Appeared In: Sport Literature Association
Reviewed By: Robert Hamblin, Southeast Missouri State University
Text Of Review:

What kind of baseball stories might be written by an individual who is, at one and the same time, a biographer, a literary critic, a political scientist, a psychoanalyst, a novelist, a poet and a Buddist monk? The answer, in a word, is "Fantastic!"-as one quickly discovers in reading Jay Martin's outstanding collection of baseball stories, Baseball Magic.

Few American authors are as prolific and multi-talented as Martin. Best known for his biographies of Henry Miller, John Dewey, Conrad Aiken, Nathanael West and, more recently, A. J. Cartwright, the true father of baseball, Martin has also written, among his twenty-two books, a history of American literature (Harvests of Change), a study of multiple personalities (Who Am I This Time?), a novel (Winter Dreams) and a narrative of his experiences as a Buddhist acolyte (Journey to Heavenly Mountain). All of these various interests and more come into play in the eleven short stories that comprise Baseball Magic. Among writers of baseball fiction, the author whose work Martin's stories most resemble is W. P. Kinsella. Like Kinsella's magic realism, Martin's stories mix real and fictional characters and events and employ a startling and wildly entertaining imagination. In "Our Lady's Fielder," an eccentric Catholic priest sets up a pitching machine in an open field and hits fly balls to a small statue of the Virgin Mary that he has placed in center field. The supernatural miracle that occurs astounds two onlookers but is not at all surprising to any true baseball fan. In "Reconstruction," a story set in the post-Civil War South, a Yankee military officer and a Southern mayor place a history-changing wager on a baseball game between whites and blacks in Faulkner's mythical town of Jefferson, Mississippi. Among the spectators are two of Faulkner's most notable characters, General Jason Compson and Thomas Sutpen. In "Buddhist Baseball," a group of American college students demonstrate the American pastime to the inhabitants of a Chinese monastery. In "The Boy Who Became a Bloomer Girl," the main character recalls the youthful day when, disguised as a girl, he filled out the roster of a touring women's team that outplayed men's teams in exhibition matches. In "Why Jane Austen Never Married," the famous author declines an invitation of marriage because, as revealed in a newly discovered manuscript, she will not give up her love of "base ball" to please the would-be husband. In "Yankee Doodle," a writer cures his case of writer's block by imagining a terrorist attack on the hated New York Yankees and George Steinbrenner. In "The Four Hundred," a member of the lowly Chicago Cubs enters the final day of the season with an opportunity to become the first player since Ted Williams to compile a .400 batting average. In "A New Life," a star player for the Detroit Tigers seeks psychiatric help to deal with a domestic crisis. In "The Bottle Bat," a player who has resurrected his career by using one historic bottle bat is arrested for attempting to steal another from the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Underneath the surface of these and other stories in the volume lies a concern for-and the relevance of sport to-such issues as racial and gender equality, the fusion of sport and religion, the search for mental and physical health, and the importance of tradition and ritual. But the real focus of these stories is the ecstatic and transcendent joy offered by the game itself, to spectators as well as participants. Martin's stories, as appropriate for the sport that claims to be our national pastime, truly are magical.

Date Reviewed: 05/19/2008
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