Sunday, March 26, 2023

No Place I Would Rather Be

My book about Roger Angell's writing career is now out in paperback
It's currently 40 degrees and cloudy in Chicagoland, and there's a rumor that the baseball season starts in a few days. One certainty is that on April 1 University of Nebraska Press will release the paperback edition of No Place I Would Rather Be: Roger Angell and a Life in Baseball Writing, for which I've written a new epilogue on the occasion of Roger's death last year at the age of 101.

If you're interested in the career of baseball's greatest writer who had an historic through line from Babe Ruth to Mike Trout, who wrote with a fiction writer's eye for detail and story, and who remained a besotted yet skeptical fan of the game in its ups and downs, I've got you covered.

From the epilogue:
If I was startled to hear of Roger’s death, it was because he’d been living his life so fully that the prospect of its ending had seemed remote, even as he lived beyond his hundredth year. Shortly after I heard the news I watched the Chicago White Sox host the Boston Red Sox. Boston’s starter, the veteran Rich Hill, pitched well but ran into some difficulties in the middle innings. The Chicago announcer commented that Hill looked unhappy on the mound, and I instantly wondered—as I have countless times—what Roger would’ve made of the now-aggrieved Hill’s countenance as he stared down potential trouble. It just as swiftly occurred to me, with a pang, that we’ll never again enjoy a new observation—a new sentence—from Roger. His immense observational and writing gifts aside, there doesn’t seem to be much room for long, languid, patient takes on baseball, where knowledge, amusement, curiosity, and skepticism blend, where the writing seems as boundless as the game itself. The great themes in Roger’s baseball writing—the desire for community and attachment, the capacity and value of caring, the vagaries of luck—are eternal, and transcended the game. Simply put, Roger elevated the game of baseball; no one before or since has written about it as attentively and as thoughtfully, and with such droll literary panache. He loved baseball. He was endlessly enthused by its joys and disappointed by its disappointments, finding a cherished place there. The long seasons will go on, but something irreplaceable is now gone.
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