At the risk of offending some of you…

September 25, 2012 · 3 comments

In my regular search for items for the blog, I cam across a couple of review for baseball fiction that caught my eye (ouch) and made me stop.

A bit of background first.

A couple of weeks ago The New York Times ran a front-page review of Telegraph Avenue, Michael Chabon’s latest novel in the Sunday Review of Books. One paragraph in particular stood out for me: “Because a woman in mid-tirade would seem unlikely to pause and imagine herself on camera with Rod Serling, the observation is merely distracting.”

I rarely pay attention to who’s doing the review, but that line made me look. It was written by the author Jennifer Egan (A Visit From the Goon Squad). It made we wonder, would a male reviewer have picked up on that? That, in turn, got me to thinking, how do different demographics of reviewers perceive the material they’re asked to write about? For example, a Jew and an African-American might come to see Rabbi Rebecca Alpert’s book about the Negro Leagues from vastly different perspectives. Of course, you can take this to ridiculous extremes.

The two baseball items that made me think of the Chabon review are Arlene Somerton Smith’s piece on Calico Joe and Ellen Rocco’s piece on The Brothers K and The Art of Fielding, via North Country Pubic Radio’s “Readers and Writers Book Club.”

Rocco notes that her favorite baseball novels deal less with baseball and more with relationships. That is one of the “problems” I had with all the reviews claiming TAOF was a great baseball novel, comparable to the classics of the genre like The Natural and the Harris books. In fact, I submit that they are not. I agree with Rocco that Fielding is about relationships. There’s more actual baseball in Calico Joe (as I’ve written, neither is a particular favorite of mine), but even that is about failing/failed relationships.

At the risk of being sexist, is this a theme that women are more sensitive to than men might be?

Just askin’. Please add comments and/or send emails.


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