If you have seen Field of Dreams you know the basic story here. Ray builds a baseball field in his corn field and baseball player ghosts come to play. He then is sent to kidnap a recluse writer and to bring another ghost home from out of town. All while his farm is failing and he is on the verge of bankruptcy. What motivates dear Ray? Firstly, a love of baseball. Secondly, the chance that he might be allowed to talk to the ghost of his baseball player father.
I need to state up front that I am not a huge baseball fan so much of the magic of this book was lost on me. I did enjoy the movie Field of Dreams though I haven’t seen it in years. I recently went to Iowa on a business trip and got the opportunity to stop by a local museum which had displays of books/movies based in Iowa. That was what got me to grab a copy of this book and give it a try.
It has been years since I have seen the movie but I am pretty sure the movie was a bit better than the book. At least, in my opinion.
The book wasn’t bad. It was just weird. Not even just “baseball player ghosts weird” either.
I know it is an award winning novel so I don’t want to criticize it too harshly. Clearly, my opinion is a minority one.
My first issue was with Annie, Ray’s wife. In the movie, I remember her being a spitfire. In the book, she is sickeningly innocent. I almost wondered if she was meant to me mentally handicapped. She is child like and it is rather creepy.
The ending of the book was much stranger than the movie as well. I won’t deliver any spoilers here but I felt like it was too much of a reach to be anything but strange.
The writer is clearly passionate about baseball and if you understand the deep passion that is baseball to the point that it can make a man in bankruptcy build a ball field to see baseball player ghosts then this book might be for you. I go to local farm team games. That is about it. I don’t have any idea who plays for what team or even who the big names are in baseball these days. I feel like this books magic is harder to understand by the very casual baseball fan.
It wasn’t a bad read. It was just slow in spots and I didn’t like the ending. I wanted something a bit more neat and tidy. I didn’t get it.
I did enjoy the character of Salinger. He made the book for me. Ray was a decent character as well. The rest of the characters I didn’t connect with. The scenes between Ray and Salinger were the best parts of the book though overall the book lacked much of the humor of the movie even in the interactions between Ray and Salinger.
I want to stress that I am clearly not the intended audience for this book and so my fairly neutral review of it should be considered with a grain of salt. If you are passionate about baseball you will probably enjoy this book. If you like books that lean a bit more towards the literary you will probably like this book. Overall, I am a genre fiction reader. I like a good romance or mystery. I like ghosts and paranormal aspects of stories but this book just wasn’t doing it for me.
Still, it is award winning.
And, the movie is good. Maybe just go and watch that instead.