The following is a February 2014 review of my debut novel, 60'6": Balls, Strikes, and Baseball Mortality by Chris Murphy (@chris_m_twn). Chris is the host of The Weather Network's national weekday morning show:
Chasing dreams and falling in love, now who can't relate to that?
This is a book about a young man, written by a young man, but not exclusively for young men.
Gord Mattis and Danny Johnson exist on sports teams, in police stations, boardrooms and schoolyards across North America...and for that matter within each one of us.
The sensible and the brash. The one who must work for every inch and the one for whom everything comes easy. The dedicated philosopher and the gifted bad boy.
Arsenault gives us a look inside what its like to be part of the grind that is minor league baseball. The struggles and the victories. The groupies. The hijinks and bellyhoo. And most importantly, the underpinning insecurity that lies beneath, always a fraction away from sabotaging the dream...be that making it to "The Show" or being with the one you love.
Is the book crude, vulgar and crass? At times, yes. Realistically yes. After all, we are talking about young athletes who have been largely educated between the dugouts. But this aspect really just nibbles at the corners of the plate.
The core of this book - the strike down the heart of the plate if you will - comes down to dedicating one's life to a dream. To have the courage to chase that dream. The ups and downs. The distractions and pitfalls. And ultimately, coming to terms with knowing one just may not be good enough.
Gord Mattis may not have made it to the big leagues, but he is no failure. He's no saint either, which makes it so believable. Had this book been written by an older man, recalling his "prime" when the "sky was the limit" likely would've over romanticized and thus made the book not nearly as compelling.
Arsenault is just close enough to recall, and just far enough to reflect.
60'6":Balls, Strikes and Baseball Mortality reads much the way Gord pitches and courts his love interest Kim. Occasionally wild, more often intelligent and when need be...delivers a shot of pure gas.
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