John Irving’s A Prayer for Owen Meany
If you’ve read John Irving’s novel, you know it can hardly be described as sports fiction, and I’m not about to try to force Irving into that box. Rather than sports, what Irving weaves into his story is a heavy dose of theology. If this blog focused on blending fiction and religion together, Irving would no doubt earn a prominent place. However, A Prayer for Owen Meany does borrow one of its conspicuous metaphors from the world of sports. Baseball, to be specific. Early in the novel, the title character, certainly not known for his baseball skills, gets a chance to pinch hit in a Little League game, a game his side is hopelessly losing. There are two outs in the last inning, and everyone expects the batter in front of Owen to make the final out. But then (providentially?), that batter is walked, so Owen steps to the plate. It’s a chance he seldom gets, and he certainly expects to strike out and end the game. But on the third pitch he makes contact with a loud smack that startles everyone. He’s never hit a ball like this before. The line drive is foul, but it still wreaks dire consequences. I’ll not spoil things, but suffice it to say that the ensuing tragedy is so weighty that the first section of the novel is simply called “The Foul Ball.”Read More / Leave Comment»
I just returned from a terrific week at Folly Beach, S. Carolina. For relaxation, I can’t think of anything better than lying on the sand and letting the surf’s roar wash over me. And, like most everyone else, I rummaged through the sand for a few seashell souvenirs. However, I uncovered my best finds at Charleston’s independent bookstore, Blue Bicycle Books, where I managed to find a few books that should serve as blog material for some time to come. Then, on the way home, I collected a few more treasures with a side trip to My Book Dispensary in Columbia, S. Carolina.
I offer kudos to these two shops for maintaining a section for books related to sports. Some big chain bookstores have sacrificed this section to make room for more profitable offerings. I also appreciated how both of the indie stores keep most of their sports fiction titles with the sports books. Finding these novels is much easier when you don’t have to hunt through the general fiction section. So, what did I find?Read More / Leave Comment»
Writing’s True Rewards
Sometimes friends ask me how my writing life is going. I suspect what some of them are really asking is how soon my self-published debut novel will break out and lead me to fame and fortune. And if it isn’t leading me there, they probably wonder why I’m bothering with writing in the first place. Well, if that is the question that determines my success or failure, the answer is easy. I’m a flop. At the current rate of selling one to two copies per month, The Victors Club may reach bestseller status sometime in the 22nd century. Now, I must confess, I used to indulge in those dreams of fame and fortune. Well, at least the fortune part. After all, when published authors perused my work and offered a few accolades, it was easy to get carried away. And while those lofty dreams haven’t entirely eluded me, the early months of my novel’s published life have disabused me of the idea that Oprah is likely to call anytime soon.Read More / Leave Comment»
As promised, here’s the conclusion of my story. If you haven’t read the beginning, you can do so here.
The End of the Rivalry (continued)
“Can’t talk now,” is all Sammy blurts to the bouquet of microphones stuffed in his face after the fight. He retreats to his hotel room and holes up. Pays for an extra week. Doesn’t answer the phone, not even the calls from Billy or his girlfriend Angie. For food he orders room service at 3AM.
On the fourth day, the day of the champ’s memorial service, the press finally ends their 24-hour siege. At 5 AM Sammy slips out the back way and escapes into the twenty-five degree February night. His black trench coat, fedora hat, and sunglasses don’t disguise as well as he would like, but the getup does offer some protection from the gusts that drop the wind-chill close to a record low. Nobody spots him as he crouches behind a row of evergreen bushes bordering the lawn of St. Paul the Apostle Church. After a few hours someone unlocks the front door, and Sammy, shivering, creeps in. Removes his hat, glasses, and coat. Chooses a pew near the confessional booth. Prays.Read More / Leave Comment»
The Reaper and the Flowers
Once again the world of sports has been tragically intertwined with the world of our daily lives. The evil in the hearts of Monday’s despicable villains stands in sharp contrast to the admirable striving for achievement that the Boston Marathon fosters. Three lovely people, full of life and potential, have been snatched from us much too soon. Human language cannot express our sorrow, words fail, but sometimes it seems they are all we have. My own offerings of comfort ring hollow, so, instead, I once again present the words of Massachusetts’ own poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who spent many days in the land of suffering and grief himself.
By his own testimony, the following poem, which came to him quite spontaneously, afforded some solace. On December 6, 1838, he wrote these words in his diary: “A beautiful holy morning within me. I was softly excited, I knew not why, and wrote with peace in my heart, and not without tears in my eyes, The Reaper and the Flowers, A Psalm of Death. I have had an idea of this kind in my mind for a long time, without finding any expression for it in words. This morning it seemed to crystallize at once, without any effort on my own.” Poem is below the break.Read More / Leave Comment»