Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book review (sort of): "A Ticket for a Seamstitch"

I logged onto the site today with intentions of writing my long-overdue review for "A Ticket for a Seamstitch," but to my pleasant surprise I've found that John has already done my job for me - and much more eloquently than I could ever have.

I'll add a few brief thoughts and we'll close the book on this book.

"Seamstitch" was assigned reading in Lofflin's Baseball Fiction class, the only book in the Wiggen series on the class reading list. So I read this book before I ever read "The Southpaw" or "Bang the Drum Slowly." That puts it in a substantially different light, because one of the most important things in "Seamstitch" is what's not on the written page.

Namely, Bruce Pearson. That name is never mentioned in "Seamstitch," but the book takes place only one season after Pearson died at the end of "Bang the Drum Slowly." Although Bruce is never mentioned, there's a substantial amount of subtle subtext (how's that for assonance?) alluding to Bruce. For instance - Wiggen is only 25 years old in this novel, but he's matured considerably since "Bang the Drum Slowly." And the Piney Woods character is interesting when compared to Bruce. He's the exact opposite of Bruce in many ways. Bruce was quiet, dumb, and not much of a ballplayer; Piney is smart, exuberant and has a lot of potential as a catcher. They're similar in a lot of ways, too.

What sets this book apart from the others in the series is length, of course, but length is a byproduct of the real difference: detail. Mark Harris goes into exhaustive detail about a full Mammoths season in each of the earlier books. In "Seamstitch," he only details a few days of the 1956 season, and the book ends on July 4, with the season only half over. But he makes it work - just like he always does.

I can't think of much more to add to Lofflin's review, so we'll call it a day. "It Looked Like For Ever," the last book in the Wiggen series, is next.

--Matt Kelsey

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