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The Essential W. P. Kinsella

This career retrospective celebrates the 80th birthday of baseball’s greatest scribe, W. P. Kinsella (Shoeless Joe), as well as the 25th anniversary of Field of Dreams, the film that he inspired. In addition to his classic baseball tales, W. P. Kinsella is also a critically-acclaimed short fiction writer. His satiric wit has been celebrated with numerous honors, including the Order of British Columbia. Here are his notorious First Nation narratives of indigenous Canadians, and a literary homage to J. D. Salinger. Alongside the “real” story of the 1951 Giants and the afterlife of Roberto Clemente, are the legends of a pirated radio station and a hockey game rigged by tribal magic. Eclectic, dark, and comedic by turns, The Essential W. P. Kinsella is a living tribute to an extraordinary raconteur.

“[Starred review] The career of the incomparable Kinsella (Shoeless Joe) is beautifully represented by these 31 short stories, including, of course, “Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa,” the haunting tale of a baseball fan’s obsession with a long-dead star that was developed into a bestselling novel and then the film Field of Dreams. Other charming baseball fantasies include “The Night Manny Mota Tied the Record,” in which a fan agrees to sacrifice himself to bring back the recently dead Yankees star Thurman Munson, and “Searching for January,” which concerns an encounter with the deceased Roberto Clemente. Alongside these stories are several more realistic and mostly gentle satires, such as “The Fog,” that present the escapades of several indefatigable members of Canada’s First Nations. “The Grecian Urn” concerns a couple who can inhabit the interior worlds of great works of art. “K Mart” is the touching tale of three boys who use baseball to escape from their unhappy lives. Kinsella is a masterly writer of short fiction. Though his first-person narrators, mostly men much like himself, can become a bit repetitive when the collection is read straight through, each of these works, whether fantastic or realistic, is individually a small marvel of the storyteller’s art.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Mystery and homegrown magic realism at its best and most satisfying. Kinsella is a storyteller of the first order.”
—Joe R. Lansdale, author of Cold in July

“The baseball stories may magically touch on tragic figures such as Roberto Clemente and Thurman Munson, but the tales spend just as much time in the low minors with players who are unlikely ever even to sniff life in Triple A ball, much less the majors.  The Indian stories portray the unexpected humor of life on the reservation – humor that is often more of the “sometimes you have to laugh so you don’t cry” variety, than not.  There are likely to be surprises for everyone in The Essential W.P. Kinsella.  But those who know Kinsella’s work only from his baseball stories are going to get the biggest and best surprise of all.”
Book Chase

Introduction by Rick Wilber
How I Got My Nickname
The Night Manny Mota Tied the Record
First Names and Empty Pockets
Searching for January
Lieberman in Love
The Grecian Urn
The Fog
How Manny Embarquadero Overcame and Began His Climb to the Major Leagues
The Indian Nation Cultural Exchange Program
K Mart
The Firefighter
Dr. Don
Brother Frank’s Gospel Hour
The Alligator Report—with Questions for Discussion
King of the Street
Do Not Abandon Me
Marco in Paradise
Out of the Picture
The Lightning Birds
The Last Surviving Member of the Japanese Victory Society
The Job
Risk Takers
The Lime Tree
Doves and Proverbs
Waiting on Lombard Street
Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa
Afterward – Where It Began: Shoeless Joe

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