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01/17/2009

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REBEL BASEBALL: The Summer the Game was Returned to the Fans by Steve Perlstein.

The book is drawn from a true story about the improbable rise of an obscure minor-league baseball team in 1994. This was the year that the Major League Baseball Player's Association went on strike and the unresolved labor dispute brought the cancellation of the entire post-season and the World Series. The fans were disgusted by the big money cry-babies and drawn to the smaller parks where the intimacy and conviviality of baseball had never left.

The book is packed with stories and anecdotes about the colorful characters who populate the outer ranges of professional sports. The older players in the twilight of their careers, the young ones looking for a big break, and the also-rans who are there because they can't imagine doing anything else. The shoestring promotional stunts, managerial guffaws, and most importantly—the passion. It really is all about passion, and I think it's a fun summer read for people even marginally interested in sports or baseball like myself.

This one did not win literary awards, but I like the book because it brings the human drama in sport to life. I was also quite confident no-one else had read it.

Here's a short review of "I Know This Much Is True" by Wally Lamb:

This novel is an exploration of the hardships one man and his family have had to endure, and his struggle for answers and a sense of self. Dominick is an identical twin whose brother, Thomas, is a paranoid schizophrenic. The book starts with Dominick's life at 40 and alternates between the past and the present, so as a reader, you slowly find out more and more about the twins' unbelievably hard childhood, Dominick's ex-wife, the loss of their child in infancy, their abusive step-father and repressed mother. It seems impossible that one person could suffer so much during their lifetime, but it's written in such a matter-of-fact, believable tone that you can't question Dominick's story.

Even though this book is emotionally very difficult to get through, I love it for the insights it gives into the human mind. Dominick is a person that's made lots of mistakes and done plenty of cruel things to almost everyone he's close to (and especially to his twin, who he loves desperately but bitterly resents), but your heart still aches for him and identifies with him in his quest to understand his life and to become a decent person in spite of everything. I like that it portrays people as people—nobody is unequivocally good or evil—and each person is a messy amalgamation of their upbringing, their genes, their family history, and their own selfish desires. I'm also interested in human psychology and this book delves deeply into the human psyche. Most of all, it made me feel so thankful for my safe, sane family and everything that's been done for me so that I may lead a happy, healthy, and productive life.

Review for Falling Under By Danielle Younge-Ullman
Mara is a lonely young painter who looks to her past to find out what is blocking her creativity. She becomes involved with another young artist who dies suddenly. She is left to pick up the pieces of her life, reinvent herself, and open up her heart again. Once she lets go of her insecurities she is able to find a new love and find her passion for art again.

Younge-Ullman's style of writing highlights the mundane and shows us very personal elements of Mara's everyday life.

I chose Breakfast of Champions because it unlocked a part of my brain that I didn't know existed. It's basically about two lonely men and how their paths cross. If I remember correctly, one is a used car salesman and the other is a pulp science fiction writer. Hoover, the car salesman, is depressed and hallucinates from a chemical imbalance. Kilgore Trout, the writer, hitchhikes to Hoover's town to attend a science fiction museum. The tone is very sarcastic, funny and quite depressing.

I imagine I am leaving some key information. Hopefully this helps.

probably too late for help on this project, I came across this blog from a book designer. Great stuff, and lots of rejected comps.

http://henryseneyee.blogspot.com/

Thanks, everyone, for including the descriptions! It really helps.

Mark, that Web site you included is great.

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