Thursday, January 6, 2011

Blockade Billy

Blockade Billy kept drawing me back to it. I would see it on our new book shelf at the library, pick it up, see it's baseball theme and it's slim size, think about it, then set it back down. Stephen King has never done much for me. The only work of his I can say I enjoyed was Needful Things. I have his book on being a Red Sox fan on my shelf, Faithful, which is co-written by Stewart O'Nan, another author of which I am not fond, and it will likely remain unread.

Getting back to Blockade Billy, I was transitioning it from the new book shelf to the general fiction shelf, changing stickers, altering the location of the book in the computer system, and I finally opted to take it home and read it.

The best thing I can say about this book is that it is a quick read. I read over half of it as I cooked dinner and knocked out the remainder soon after.

The book is perplexing. It is set during the 1957 baseball season and King mixes actual major league teams and players with fictional ones. In the opening game of the season, Ted Williams inexplicably steals a base. Williams never stole a base that season and rarely stole any. The timing of said stolen base is baffling and is followed up by him being removed by a pinch-runner who tries to score from second on an infield hit. Really? When does this happen? Oh, wait, in the movie Major League, the game is won in that fashion. Otherwise, I don't see it happening. It's not like the pitcher is in the on-deck circle. Even if he was, the game was in the ninth inning. Pinch-hit. You don't try to score from second on an infield hit. Ridiculous.

Needless to say, I wasn't keen on the baseball content of the story. I wasn't keen on the story in general. The book is told like one big oral history coming from the coach of the team who King has gone to interview at a retirement community, or as the coach likes to call it, a "zombie hotel". I worked for a firm that surveyed elder care communities and in thousands upon thousands of surveys, never came across anyone who called it a "zombie hotel". It almost seems like a phrase a horror movie writer might make up, doesn't it?

Since it is one big story, there are no chapters. It's 112 small pages that jut run on. The story is about a catcher, Blockade Billy Blakeley, named so because of his blocking the above mentioned runner from scoring. Triple B is brought up to the big leagues from Iowa after both catchers for the New Jersey Titans are hurt at the end of spring training. Triple B is an instant star even though he's obviously not all there in the head. His dark secret is exposed which results in all the games in which he has played to be expunged from the official record (perhaps the stupidest thing I've ever heard).

You know what? I'm going to spoil it for you. If you don't want to read the big secret, just move on. I really didn't like the book and even given it's length, I don't want you bothering. Blakeley isn't Blakeley. He's a farmhand who kills the real Blakeley, his family, and their cows to take Blakeley's place and become a big leaguer.

Oh, I forgot. This book also has creepy black and white illustrations.

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