Class A Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere, by Lucas Mann
Let’s start with the caveat: I have been trying to get my writing published for almost 20 years. Any writer who gets published makes me jealous and angry. Now on to the book…
This book is a great idea. The author spent a solid year living in Clinton, Iowa, home of the Class A baseball team: The Lumberkings.
The author really does his homework. He gets to know the players, the coaches, the fans, the announcers, the management, the umpires. He really digs in deep and gets into the nitty gritty of how they feel. He gets into the bitterness and arrogance of players, the gorgeous weirdness of the crazy fans, and spends a lot of time telling you about the dying town of Clinton, Iowa.
It’s a GREAT idea for a book. Tremendous. How interesting to read about this amazing sub-culture way below the baseball we see on ESPN? How many great stories, bizarre characters, and surreal situations there have to be in this? You can see why this got published, right.
Now here’s what drive me crazy: the guy’s writing doesn’t pull it through. All this terrific material and you find yourself drifting off as you plod through each paragraph. He sets up these players that should all be quite distinct, but 2 pages later you’re wondering which player is which. The crazy fans, who really are as odd as you can get, are unmemorable and boring.
Worse off, as the book goes along, more and more of it becomes about the author himself. It’s about his feelings as he struggles to find meaning in his life and stay with this assignment. He describes how hard it is the drive late at night to games and goes on for pages about how sad he finds the truckstop he stops at to pee. (Side note: What man stops at a truckstop to pee in the middle of the night in Iowa? Just pull over on the side of the road, dumbass.)
Worse off, the book is getting lots of good reviews. It’s being praised for it’s depth and it’s prose.
I don’t know – I gave up after 240 pages. Nothing was keeping my interest, no tension at all, no suspense, and the writing couldn’t keep me along for the ride. Quite the opposite.
So with bitterness and jealousy I recommend passing on this book.