My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The ending of Empty Seats by Wanda Adams Fischer is so different from the beginning, it almost reads like a separate book. The novel starts out as a story about baseball. Here's a quote from Jimmy Bailey's first chance to pitch for the Jamestown Falcons, a single A team in the Montreal Expos system. He's a relief pitcher, showing his coaches what he's got in a scrimmage with Geneva, another single A team.
Russ calls for a fastball. I lean down, coddle the ball, rock back on the pitching rubber, pull my left foot up in a perpendicular motion, bring my right arm back, and fire.
There's careful detail in this writing and, when Jimmy's team is fighting to win, the book gets very exciting. You don't have to be a baseball fan to feel it.
Then the season ends and the three main characters head back to their families. These are Bobby, Bud, and Jimmy, all pitchers trying to work their way up from single A. Here the book changes to a story of young men dealing with the problems life hands them in their own ways, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Baseball has very little to do with this part of the novel, although they still encounter fans from their high school days, still have to deal with their own dreams, and still keep in touch with each other. Here's a quote from this section. This one is also from Jimmy.
Yes, Bud, you are my friend.
You're the real deal.
The description of what it was like to be a young, minor-league baseball player in the early seventies was my favorite aspect of this novel. I had a little trouble transitioning to the tone of the second part, but both sections were well written and exciting.
Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul, White Horse Regressions, Hopatcong Vision Quest, and Under a Warped Cross.
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