Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella
My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
In planning out books to read for the 7th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge, I have to thank John, over at the Book Mine Set for giving me the revelation that: a) Shoeless Joe is the book that the movie Field of Dreams was based on and b) author, W. P. Kinsella, is Canadian (I feel like such a 'bad' Canadian not having known these facts before). Since Field of Dreams is one of my favorite movies (I've lost track of how many times I've seen it...the story never gets old for me), Shoeless Joe immediately went on my challenge list.
Shoeless Joe tells the story of Ray Kinsella, an Iowan farmer with a passion for baseball. Despite being financially on the verge of losing his farm, he is compelled to build a ball park in his cornfield after hearing a mysterious baseball announcers' voice tell him "If you build it, he will come". Ray doesn't exactly know why he is doing this, but he just knows this is what he must do. Once finished, the ball park magically beckons Shoeless Joe Jackson and the rest of the Unlucky Eight who were banned from baseball in the Chicago Black Sox scandal out on the field. And that is just the beginning of the story...Ray hears additional instructions from the mystical announcer and more magic unfolds.
This is, quite simply put, a beautifully written book. Kinsella's descriptions are thoughtful and vivid, bringing everything to life:
"As I step out onto the verandah, I hear the steady drone of the crowd, like bees humming on a white afternoon, and the voices of the vendors, like crows cawing. A ground mist, like wisps of gauze, snakes in slow circular motions just above the grass...Moonlight butters the whole Iowa night. Clover and corn smells are thick as syrup. I experience a tingling like the tiniest electric wires touching the back of my neck, sending warm sensations through me. Then, as the lights flare, a scar against the blue-black sky, I see Shoeless Joe Jackson standing out on left field." p.13-14
I feel like I can't write this review without a comparison between Shoeless Joe & Field of Dreams. What I love about Field of Dreams is all about the story and what it conveys - not being afraid to dream big, even if it seems like you might be crazy for doing it. Of course, as is usually the case, the book conveys all of that, and then some. Even though I knew how the storyline would progress, there were parts to the book that were not in the movie - two characters in the book (Ray's twin brother Richard & Eddie Scissons, the oldest living Chicago Cub) that were not included in the movie and one of the main characters, Terrance Mann in the movie was actually J. D. Salinger in the book - a way more cool factor with Salinger as a main character, but apparently the movie producers were avoiding a lawsuit from Salinger who did not want to be depicted in the movie.
This is my ninth book read for the 7th Annual Canadian Book Challenge.