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Elysian Fields Quarterly - Spring 2006

  • Issue Number: Volume 23 Number 1
  • Published Date: Spring 2006
  • Publication Cycle: Quarterly

The “Hot Stove Issue” contains two fiction pieces, Michelle Von Euw’s “The Show,” and Billy O’Callaghan’s “The Game of Life.” O’Callaghan unfolds the relationship between a boy and his grandfather with the same steady pace with which the boy perfects his curveball. I feel “The Show” is the standout here, as Von Euw follows Hattie Sutton watch her husband Sam deal with the sudden notoriety of being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame for his years in the Negro Leagues. As Von Euw writes, “Hattie had spent her whole life watching the major leagues turn their backs on men like her husband.” Sam finishes his career like many players who came back from World War II to find the game changed, “But he signed on with the Baltimore team, where his career died slowly, echoing the end of the league that had become a burial ground for men who were too old or too damaged by the war, or who never had enough talent in the first place.” The cruelty of baseball cannot be overlooked, and Von Euw imbues it with details and emotion that prevent “The Show” from seeming like a history lesson. I think of most modern baseball fiction being the game-as-mythic-metaphor tall tales (which will eventually star Kevin Costner), but Elysian Fields is open to a more critical view, which is where baseball truly becomes a metaphor for American life. []

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Review Posted on July 31, 2006

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