More than the inspiration for the beloved film Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe is a mythical novel about “dreams, magic, life, and what is quintessentially American” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
“If you build it, he will come.” These mysterious words, spoken by an Iowa baseball announcer, inspire Ray Kinsella to carve a baseball diamond in his cornfield in honor of his hero, the baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson. What follows is both a rich, nostalgic look at one of our most cherished national pastimes and a remarkable story about fathers and sons, love and family, and the inimitable joy of finding your way home.
|Publisher:||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|
|Edition description:||Unabridged, 6 Cassettes|
|Product dimensions:||6.67(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.32(d)|
About the Author
W. P. Kinsella (1935-2016) was the author of numerous works of fiction, including the best-selling Shoeless Joe, for which he won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship, The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, and eleven highly acclaimed short story collections.
Date of Birth:May 25, 1935
Date of Death:September 16, 2016
Place of Birth:Edmonton, Alberta
Education:University of Victoria
Read an Excerpt
Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa
My father said he saw him years later playing in a tenth-rate commercial league in a textile town in Carolina, wearing shoes and an assumed name.
"He'd put on fifty pounds and the spring was gone from his step in the outfield, but he could still hit. Oh, how that man could hit. No one has ever been able to hit like Shoeless Joe."
Three years ago at dusk on a spring evening, when the sky was a robin's-egg blue and the wind as soft as a day-old chick, I was sitting on the verandah of my farm home in eastern Iowa when a voice very clearly said to me, "If you build it, he will come."
The voice was that of a ballpark announcer. As he spoke, I instantly envisioned the finished product I knew I was being asked to conceive. I could see the dark, squarish speakers, like ancient sailors' hats, attached to aluminum-painted light standards that glowed down into a baseball field, my present position being directly behind home plate.
In reality, all anyone else could see out there in front of me was a tattered lawn of mostly dandelions and quack grass that petered out at the edge of a cornfield perhaps fifty yards from the house.
Anyone else was my wife Annie, my daughter Karin, a corn-colored collie named Carmeletia Pope, and a cinnamon and white guinea pig named Junior who ate spaghetti and sang each time the fridge door opened. Karin and the dog were not quite two years old.
"If you build it, he will come," the announcer repeated in scratchy Middle American, as if his voice had been recorded on an old 78-r.p.m. record.
A three-hour lecture or a 500-page guide book could not have given me clearer directions: Dimensions of ballparks jumped over and around me like fleas, cost figures for light standards and floodlights whirled around my head like the moths that dusted against the porch light above me.
That was all the instruction I ever received: two announcements and a vision of a baseball field. I sat on the verandah until the satiny dark was complete. A few curdly clouds striped the moon, and it became so silent I could hear my eyes blink.
Our house is one of those massive old farm homes, square as a biscuit box with a sagging verandah on three sides. The floor of the verandah slopes so that marbles, baseballs, tennis balls, and ball bearings all accumulate in a corner like a herd of cattle clustered with their backs to a storm. On the north verandah is a wooden porch swing where Annie and I sit on humid August nights, sip lemonade from teary glasses, and dream.
When I finally went to bed, and after Annie inched into my arms in that way she has, like a cat that you suddenly find sound asleep in your lap, I told her about the voice and I told her that I knew what it wanted me to do.
"Oh love," she said, "if it makes you happy you should do it," and she found my lips with hers. I shivered involuntarily as her tongue touched mine.
Annie: She has never once called me crazy. Just before I started the first landscape work, as I stood looking out at the lawn and the cornfield, wondering how it could look so different in daylight, considering the notion of accepting it all as a dream and abandoning it, Annie appeared at my side and her arm circled my waist. She leaned against me and looked up, cocking her head like one of the red squirrels that scamper along the power lines from the highway to the house. "Do it, love," she said as I looked down at her, that slip of a girl with hair the color of cayenne pepper and at least a million freckles on her face and arms, that girl who lives in blue jeans and T-shirts and at twenty-four could still pass for sixteen.
I thought back to when I first knew her. I came to Iowa to study. She was the child of my landlady. I heard her one afternoon outside my window as she told her girl friends, "When I grow up I'm going to marry ..." and she named me. The others were going to be nurses, teachers, pilots, or movie stars, but Annie chose me as her occupation. Eight years later we were married. I chose willingly, lovingly, to stay in Iowa. Eventually I rented this farm, then bought it, operating it one inch from bankruptcy. I don't seem meant to farm, but I want to be close to this precious land, for Annie and me to be able to say, "This is ours."
Now I stand ready to cut into the cornfield, to chisel away a piece of our livelihood to use as dream currency, and Annie says, "Oh, love, if it makes you happy you should do it." I carry her words in the back of my mind, stored the way a maiden aunt might wrap a brooch, a remembrance of a long-lost love. I understand how hard that was for her to say and how it got harder as the project advanced. How she must have told her family not to ask me about the baseball field I was building, because they stared at me dumb-eyed, a row of silent, thickset peasants with red faces. Not an imagination among them except to forecast the wrath of God that will fall on the heads of pagans such as I.
"If you build it, he will come."
He, of course, was Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Joseph Jefferson (Shoeless Joe) Jackson Born: Brandon Mills, South Carolina, July 16, 1887 Died: Greenville, South Carolina, December 5, 1951
In April 1945, Ty Cobb picked Shoeless Joe as the best left fielder of all time. A famous sportswriter once called Joe's glove "the place where triples go to die." He never learned to read or write. He created legends with a bat and a glove.
Was it really a voice I heard? Or was it perhaps something inside me making a statement that I did not hear with my ears but with my heart? Why should I want to follow this command? But as I ask, I already know the answer. I count the loves in my life: Annie, Karin, Iowa, Baseball. The great god Baseball.
My birthstone is a diamond. When asked, I say my astrological sign is hit and run, which draws a lot of blank stares here in Iowa where 50,000 people go to see the University of Iowa Hawkeyes football team while 500 regulars, including me, watch the baseball team perform.
My father, I've been told, talked baseball statistics to my mother's belly while waiting for me to be born.
My father: born, Glen Ullin, North Dakota, April 14, 1896. Another diamond birthstone. Never saw a professional baseball game until 1919 when he came back from World War I where he had been gassed at Passchendaele. He settled in Chicago, inhabited a room above a bar across from Comiskey Park, and quickly learned to live and die with the White Sox. Died a little when, as prohibitive favorites, they lost the 1919 World Series to Cincinnati, died a lot the next summer when eight members of the team were accused of throwing that World Series.
Before I knew what baseball was, I knew of Connie Mack, John McGraw, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Tris Speaker, Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance, and, of course, Shoeless Joe Jackson. My father loved underdogs, cheered for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the hapless St. Louis Browns, loathed the Yankees — an inherited trait, I believe — and insisted that Shoeless Joe was innocent, a victim of big business and crooked gamblers.
That first night, immediately after the voice and the vision, I did nothing except sip my lemonade a little faster and rattle the ice cubes in my glass. The vision of the baseball park lingered — swimming, swaying, seeming to be made of red steam, though perhaps it was only the sunset. And there was a vision within the vision: one of Shoeless Joe Jackson playing left field. Shoeless Joe Jackson who last played major league baseball in 1920 and was suspended for life, along with seven of his compatriots, by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, for his part in throwing the 1919 World Series.
Instead of nursery rhymes, I was raised on the story of the Black Sox Scandal, and instead of Tom Thumb or Rumpelstiltskin, I grew up hearing of the eight disgraced ballplayers: Weaver, Cicotte, Risberg, Felsch, Gandil, Williams, McMullin, and, always, Shoeless Joe Jackson.
"He hit .375 against the Reds in the 1919 World Series and played errorless ball," my father would say, scratching his head in wonder. "Twelve hits in an eight-game series. And they suspended him," Father would cry. Shoeless Joe became a symbol of the tyranny of the powerful over the powerless. The name Kenesaw Mountain Landis became synonymous with the Devil.
Building a baseball field is more work than you might imagine. I laid out a whole field, but it was there in spirit only. It was really only left field that concerned me. Home plate was made from pieces of cracked two-by-four embedded in the earth. The pitcher's rubber rocked like a cradle when I stood on it. The bases were stray blocks of wood, unanchored. There was no backstop or grandstand, only one shaky bleacher beyond the left-field wall. There was a left-field wall, but only about fifty feet of it, twelve feet high, stained dark green and braced from the rear. And the left-field grass. My intuition told me that it was the grass that was important. It took me three seasons to hone that grass to its proper texture, to its proper color. I made trips to Minneapolis and one or two other cities where the stadiums still have natural-grass infields and outfields. I would arrive hours before a game and watch the groundskeepers groom the field like a prize animal, then stay after the game when in the cool of the night the same groundsmen appeared with hoses, hoes, and rakes, and patched the grasses like medics attending to wounded soldiers.
I pretended to be building a Little League ballfield and asked their secrets and sometimes was told. I took interest in the total operation; they wouldn't understand if I told them I was building only a left field.
Three seasons I've spent seeding, watering, fussing, praying, coddling that field like a sick child. Now it glows parrot-green, cool as mint, soft as moss, lying there like a cashmere blanket. I've begun watching it in the evenings, sitting on the rickety bleacher just beyond the fence. A bleacher I constructed for an audience of one.
My father played some baseball, Class B teams in Florida and California. I found his statistics in a dusty minor-league record book. In Florida he played for a team called the Angels and, according to his records, was a better-than-average catcher. He claimed to have visited all forty-eight states and every major-league ballpark before, at forty, he married and settled down in Montana, a two-day drive from the nearest major-league team. I tried to play, but ground balls bounced off my chest and fly balls dropped between my hands. I might have been a fair designated hitter, but the rule was too late in coming.
There is the story of the urchin who, tugging at Shoeless Joe Jackson's sleeve as he emerged from a Chicago courthouse, said, "Say it ain't so, Joe."
Jackson's reply reportedly was, "I'm afraid it is, kid."
When he comes, I won't put him on the spot by asking. The less said the better. It is likely that he did accept money from gamblers. But throw the Series? Never! Shoeless Joe Jackson led both teams in hitting in that 1919 Series. It was the circumstances. The circumstances. The players were paid peasant salaries while the owners became rich. The infamous Ten Day Clause, which voided contracts, could end any player's career without compensation, pension, or even a ticket home.
The second spring, on a toothachy May evening, a covering of black clouds lumbered off westward like ghosts of buffalo, and the sky became the cold color of a silver coin. The forecast was for frost.
The left-field grass was like green angora, soft as a baby's cheek. In my mind I could see it dull and crisp, bleached by frost, and my chest tightened.
But I used a trick a groundskeeper in Minneapolis had taught me, saying he learned it from grape farmers in California. I carried out a hose, and, making the spray so fine it was scarcely more than fog, I sprayed the soft, shaggy spring grass all that chilled night. My hands ached and my face became wet and cold, but, as I watched, the spray froze on the grass, enclosing each blade in a gossamer-crystal coating of ice. A covering that served like a coat of armor to dispel the real frost that was set like a weasel upon killing in the night. I seemed to stand taller than ever before as the sun rose, turning the ice to eye-dazzling droplets, each a prism, making the field an orgy of rainbows.
Annie and Karin were at breakfast when I came in, the bacon and coffee smells and their laughter pulling me like a magnet.
"Did it work, love?" Annie asked, and I knew she knew by the look on my face that it had. And Karin, clapping her hands and complaining of how cold my face was when she kissed me, loved every second of it.
"And how did he get a name like Shoeless Joe?" I would ask my father, knowing the story full well but wanting to hear it again. And no matter how many times I heard it, I would still picture a lithe ballplayer, his great bare feet white as baseballs sinking into the outfield grass as he sprinted for a line drive. Then, after the catch, his toes gripping the grass like claws, he would brace and throw to the infield.
"It wasn't the least bit romantic," my dad would say. "When he was still in the minor leagues he bought a new pair of spikes and they hurt his feet. About the sixth inning he took them off and played the outfield in just his socks. The other players kidded him, called him Shoeless Joe, and the name stuck for all time."
It was hard for me to imagine that a sore-footed young outfielder taking off his shoes one afternoon not long after the turn of the century could generate a legend.
I came to Iowa to study, one of the thousands of faceless students who pass through large universities, but I fell in love with the state. Fell in love with the land, the people, the sky, the cornfields, and Annie. Couldn't find work in my field, took what I could get. For years, I bathed each morning, frosted my cheeks with Aqua Velva, donned a three-piece suit and snap-brim hat, and, feeling like Superman emerging from a telephone booth, set forth to save the world from a lack of life insurance. I loathed the job so much that I did it quickly, urgently, almost violently. It was Annie who got me to rent the farm. It was Annie who got me to buy it. I operate it the way a child fits together his first puzzle — awkwardly, slowly, but, when a piece slips into the proper slot, with pride and relief and joy.
I built the field and waited, and waited, and waited.
"It will happen, honey," Annie would say when I stood shaking my head at my folly. People looked at me. I must have had a nickname in town. But I could feel the magic building like a gathering storm. It felt as if small animals were scurrying through my veins. I knew it was going to happen soon.
One night I watch Annie looking out the window. She is soft as a butterfly, Annie is, with an evil grin and a tongue that travels at the speed of light. Her jeans are painted to her body, and her pointy little nipples poke at the front of a black T-shirt that has the single word RAH! emblazoned in waspish yellow capitals. Her red hair is short and curly. She has the green eyes of a cat.
Annie understands, though it is me she understands and not always what is happening. She attends ballgames with me and squeezes my arm when there's a hit, but her heart isn't in it and she would just as soon be at home. She loses interest if the score isn't close, or the weather's not warm, or the pace isn't fast enough. To me it is baseball, and that is all that matters. It is the game that's important — the tension, the strategy, the ballet of the fielders, the angle of the bat.
"There's someone on your lawn," Annie says to me, staring out into the orange-tinted dusk. "I can't see him clearly, but I can tell someone is there." She was quite right, at least about it being my lawn, although it is not in the strictest sense of the word a lawn; it is a left field.
I have been more restless than usual this night. I have sensed the magic drawing closer, hovering somewhere out in the night like a zeppelin, silky and silent, floating like the moon until the time is right.
Annie peeks through the drapes. "There is a man out there; I can see his silhouette. He's wearing a baseball uniform, an old-fashioned one."
"It's Shoeless Joe Jackson," I say. My heart sounds like someone flicking a balloon with his index finger.
"Oh," she says. Annie stays very calm in emergencies. She Band-Aids bleeding fingers and toes, and patches the plumbing with gum and good wishes. Staying calm makes her able to live with me. The French have the right words for Annie — she has a good heart.
"Is he the Jackson on TV? The one you yell 'Drop it, Jackson' at?" Annie's sense of baseball history is not highly developed.
"No, that's Reggie. This is Shoeless Joe Jackson. He hasn't played major-league baseball since 1920."
"Well, Ray, aren't you going to go out and chase him off your lawn, or something?"
Yes. What am I going to do? I wish someone else understood. Perhaps my daughter will. She has an evil grin and bewitching eyes and loves to climb into my lap and watch television baseball with me. There is a magic about her.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Shoeless Joe"
Copyright © 1982 W.P. Kinsella.
Excerpted by permission of RosettaBooks.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa,
Chapter 2: They Tore Down the Polo Grounds in 1964,
Chapter 3: The Life and Times of Moonlight Graham,
Chapter 4: The Oldest Living Chicago Cub,
Chapter 5: The Rapture of J. D. Salinger,
What People are Saying About This
"W. P. Kinsella plays with both myth and fantasy in his lyrical novel, which was adapted into the enormously popular movie, 'Field of Dreams.' It begins with the magic of a godlike voice in a cornfield, and ends with the magic of a son playing catch with the ghost of his father. In Kinsella's hands, it's all about as simple, and complex, as the object of baseball itself: coming home. Like Ring Lardner and Bernard Malamud before him, Kinsella spins baseball as backdrop and metaphor, and, like his predecessors, uses the game to tell us a little something more about who we are and what we need." Amazon.com
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Shoeless Joe, by W. P. Kinsella, is a very well written novel. It is very easy to read, and people of many different ages will enjoy it. It is a story about baseball, which is America`s pastime, so many people should like it. Shoeless Joe discussed a lot of history about baseball, but it also talks about a man fulfilling his dream, and how hard he has to work to do so. It also has a lot of suspense and makes for an exciting read. The story line of the book is heavily influenced on baseball and it would be easier to read with some knowledge of the game. However, many different kinds of people can enjoy this book. Ray Kinsella is a baseball fan who really likes the history of the game. Readers who are also baseball fans, especially those that like reading about some of the history of the game, like the 1919 Chicago White Sox scandal, will like Shoeless Joe. Another reason it is a great book is because the story is about a man fulfilling his dreams. Ray Kinsella has dreams about building a baseball field and having Shoeless Joe Jackson play on it. He must go through a lot of difficult tasks if he is going to achieve them. One difficult thing he had to do was to go find an author in Vermont that he had never met. Ray Kinsella never gives up trying to accomplish his goals, no matter how difficult the task is. That adds to the excitement of the book. Readers who like books that are about people who have goals and dreams and want to follow them will love Shoeless Joe. The author¿s style also adds to the excitement of the book. The voices that Ray Kinsella hears tell him that he must do several things after he has built his baseball field, including finding a doctor. These things don¿t make a lot of sense to Ray, or to the reader. This causes good suspense in the book, and the author does a nice job of showing how all these things come together to achieve an important event in the book. Readers who like a well-written book with suspense should try Shoeless Joe. Shoeless Joe is a book that has a lot of emotion, humor and drama. That is why it deserves five stars out of five. It is a good story about baseball, and discusses an important event in the history of the game . It is a good story about fulfilling one¿s dreams, and is very well written. It is definitely an exceptional book, and is highly recommended. A reader who wants an excellent book to read, should consider reading Shoeless Joe .
This book may not be a great, fluid piece of fiction, but it spoke to me on many levels. There are sections within the pages that reflect eloquently on baseball and what it means to most young men in America - words that I've read and re-read because they succinctly express my feelings for the game. As most of the other reviewers have mentioned, this book is more likely to touch those who have spent their youthful summers between the lines; however, I believe it also has value as a tool for those seeking to understand why baseball has been given such importance in the United States as the national pastime. Unlike most of the other reviewers, I highly recommend this book. (By the way, although Costner DID do the book justice in 'Field of Dreams', there are still details and additional depth to the characters that I feel are only found within the pages of the book.)
This was an excellent book. The author really knew his baseball history. The only thing I didn't like was the negative way that he portrayed Christians; not all of us are prudes like the characters he uses in the novel. I now want to see "Field of Dreams" again. It's been years since I saw the movie, and I'd like to compare the book to the movie. I do remember that the movie had to use a fictional author and not J.D. Salinger as one of the characters because the real Salinger (who just passed away last year, by the way) threatened to sue if his likeness was used in the movie.
This is a wonderfully evocative book of a time now past, a time when baseball was a game, not a business, and something to be treasured for everything it contained, to paraphrase a character in the book who says, "baseball is all that is good and can be again." A great mid summer read as you listen to the crack of the bat on a warm evening on your radio. Some passages will bring a tear to your eye.
Shoeless Joe is one of the best, if not the best, baseball book ever written. The author, W. P. Kinsella, uses many plot twists and will always keep you guessing as to what will happen next. Kinsella¿s way of writing is also very descriptive. W. P. Kinsella is a very descriptive writer and chooses his words wisely. One example of this is when Ray Kinsella, the main character, sees Shoeless Joe for the first time in his baseball field. W.P. Kinsella writes, ¿His [Shoeless Joe¿s] feet spread wide, body bent forward from the waist, hands on hips, he waits.¿ (13). Another scene is when W. P. Kinsella is describing Annie: ¿One night I watch Annie looking out the window. She is soft as a butterfly, Annie is, with an evil grin and a tongue that travels at the speed of light. Her jeans are painted to her body, and¿¿ (11) Shoeless Joe is also a creative story because of all the twists in the book. W. P. Kinsella has a different theme in each one of his chapters. Each theme is introduced by a mysterious ballpark announcer, who speaks to Ray. In the first chapter, after the ballpark announcer says ¿If you build it, he will come¿ (3), Ray builds a baseball field in his cornfield for Shoeless Joe and all of the other players that have gotten thrown out of baseball after being accused of throwing the 1919 World Series. The announcer talked to Ray again and he told him to ¿Ease his pain.¿ (31). Ray translates this into meaning that he has to take J.D. Salinger out to a baseball game. In the third chapter, the announcer talks again and says ¿Go the distance¿ (93). So Ray and Salinger go to Minnesota to find all they can about a former baseball player named Archibald Graham. After they do that, they head back to Ray¿s home in Iowa. Ray then has to find a way to pay off his mortgage on his farm. Even though there are many plot twists in this book, there is enough dialogue and explanations to what is happening at each point of the book, so that you should not become confused with anything that is happening. Shoeless Joe is an amazing book and should be read by everyone. This book, even if you are not much of a reader or baseball fan, is amusing and satisfying. The fact that there are many twists keeps the book moving so that the reader will not get bored. The book doesn¿t start of fast, it makes up for it at the end and does a good job of it. Overall, I give this book five stars out of five.
better than the movie
I bought this book at the Field of Dreams site in Iowa. I enjoyed the book. I read it after I had seen the movie several times. It was interesting to read the layout of the field. It was different then in the movie.
Wonderful story.... this is the book that the movie "Field of Dreams' was based on. The movie was great but this is better....with the book you get the full 7 course dinner not a lite version a movie can only allow. The movie does a good job and is fairly true to the book, except the character Terrance Mann (played by James Earl Jones) is actually J.D. Salinger in the book. There are a few other differences as well, and the book has Ray's brother and a couple other characters not from the movie. A great baseball book for all ages!
If you're like me, reading Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella for the first time after being a long time fan of the movie, then you're in for a treat. Of course, if you expect it to read like a novelization of Field of Dreams, then you'll be disappointed.The story is a deliberate and passionate journey of a man following a crazy voice in his head to build a baseball field in place of the crops on his Iowa farm. He risks his family's livelihood for the sake of a dream, and because he loves his wife, daughter, Iowa and baseball. The writing is leisurely as if stretching back across the 20th century from the very time of Shoeless Joe Jackson. Give yourself time to get enveloped in this one.
As the basis for the Best Picture nominated film Field of Dreams, it¿s impossible now to read WP Kinsella¿s Shoeless Joe without conjuring images of Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta, and James Earl Jones. And yet, Shoeless Joe is such a timeless book that, no matter whose faces are placed in the roles of Ray Kinsella, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and JD Salinger, the depth and spirit of the story remain unchanged.Ray Kinsella¿s journey, from his cornfield-turned-ballpark to Fenway Park and then to the Iron Range and Moonlight Graham¿s Chisholm, Minnesota is the story of man longing for meaning in his life. He never really wanted to be a farmer, but fell in to the profession when he married a young Iowa girl and found himself incapable of leaving. When a voice tells him to mow down his corn and build left field so that, ¿he will come¿, Kinsella does not hesitate in the slightest. He follows of the voice¿s commands to the point of kidnapping JD Salinger from his secluded New Hampshire home. Kinsella needs purpose in his life beyond the day-to-day business of running his farm. Ultimately, he finds in purpose in the realization that ¿he¿ was not Shoeless Joe, but Ray¿s own father, and he realizes that his entire journey brought him back to his family.
I loved this story. Its one that will stay with me, it left me in tears after reading it. It is more than a book about baseball, but cherished memories and loved ones. I was introduced to it by my Fiancee, and can't thank her enough for that. I love you Belle.
Kinsella was one of my favorite authors growing up and this is one his best books. Adapted into the wonderful film "Field of Dreams", the book is even better including a more thorough back story, JD Salinger, and the oldest living Chicago Cub! Plus no one tops Kinsella's voice for baseball magic realism.
Long a favorite movie, I think I liked the book even better. Though, in defense of the movie, I would say it stayed very true to the spirit of the book, though some might argue about the details. Nothing like it.
Have you ever seen a movie - and wondered if the book was really better (you know, like they ALWAYS say)? Well, here is your chance. Most people have seen the film "Field of Dreams." That movie, staring Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta, and the University of Michigan's own James Earl Jones, tells the story of a man losing his farm to foreclosure because he has decided to build a baseball field in the middle of a corn field in Iowa. Once the field is built, many former players come from the field to play ball. By former players - I mean dead players - who are led by a man who is possibly the greatest baseball player of all time - "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. Also - Ray Kinsella, the main character who built the field, gets a chance to see his father come back from the dead to play catch again. There are a few differences, the author that Kinsella goes to meet in Boston is JD Salinger, as opposed to the fictitious Terrance Mann played by James Earl Jones in the movie. And the book really shows more character development in Ray, his wife, JD Salinger, and "Moonlight" Graham. If you love baseball and movies, this is a must read. This book will give you a new appreciation for baseball and the small nuances of the game.
Great story about following ones dreams, no matter how crazy they seem. Ray Kinsella hears a voice and sees a vision that sets him off on a quest to build a baseball diamond and bring back those who can appreciate it. W.P. Kinsella, the author, has a wonderful writing style, and his descriptions can take you into elements of Ray's trip even if you have never experienced a ball park or carnival midway. I always enjoy re-reading the book when he describes Iowa City, the university campus, and Pearson's Drugstore, which all bring back memories for a former Hawkeye.
One of the few examples that I can think of where the movie is better than the book. Not just because they are different, but because the cliches in the book are so glaring. The movie is certainly loaded with cliches, but it works, somehow. The book is not worth the time.
Just as there is comfort food, there is comfort reading. And for me, there is no better comfort reading than W.P. Kinsella¿s classic baseball fantasy, Shoeless Joe. I re-read this one every few years to remind myself why I fell in love with the game in the first place ¿ and why that romance has lasted for over 50 years now. What is not to like about a novel about baseball, family and second chances? Keep in mind that this is not Field of Dreams, the great Kevin Costner movie based on Kinsella¿s novel. Shoeless Joe is better.Ray Kinsella, an accidental farmer, lives with his wife and little girl on a rented Iowa farm. Ray is still learning on the job, and things are not going well. But despite the family¿s financial problems, Ray is willing to plow up a substantial portion of his cornfield when he hears what seems to be the voice of a baseball announcer saying to him, ¿If you build it, he will come.¿ Weird as that is, Ray instinctively knows that he is Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the disgraced Chicago White Sox players accused of throwing the 1919 World Series (and his father¿s favorite baseball player). So build it, he does. Building the stadium, though, is just the beginning of Ray¿s quest, a quest that will lead him on a cross-country road trip to the hideaway home of reclusive author J.D. Salinger. Ray knows that he needs to bring Salinger back to his little Iowa ballpark, but he does not know why ¿ and Salinger is having none of it, so Ray kidnaps him. On the way back to Iowa, Ray stops in Boston to deliver on the promise he made to Salinger to bring him to a game at Fenway Park if he would just get in the car. Late in the game, Ray¿s personal announcer makes another appearance to give Ray and Salinger a hint about what they need to do next.Shoeless Joe is, especially for hardcore baseball fans, a thing of beauty. It is primarily a novel about the beauty of second chances. Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Black Sox get to play baseball again; Ray reconciles with the twin brother he lost track of years earlier; old men who barely missed out on the opportunity to play major league baseball get a chance to see their younger selves compete with and against ghost players from the past; Ray gets to see his father as a young man. And Ray gets a second chance to save his farm from his scheming brother-in-law.This is a book about following one¿s dreams, taking chances, and joyously living the only shot at life any of us will ever be blessed to have. When I need to remind myself of these principles, I reach for Shoeless Joe. It has done the trick for three decades ¿ and I hope there are still several more re-reads in my future.Rated at: 5.0
Ray is a man possessed by love. Love for his family, love for the sprawling farmland of Iowa, and most importantly, love for the game of baseball. It's this love that makes Ray take chances with all three. Spurred on by a mystical voice Ray builds a left field out in part of his cornfield. But, the voice doesn't stop there. Soon it has Ray driving to Vermont to kidnap J.D. Salinger and from there the adventure really begins. Battling debt, childhood devils, and indecision Ray leans on his ever-understanding wife (and later, Salinger) to build a cornfield stadium that only a few can understand. It's a magical story, perfect for Christmastime when the season is all about dreams and believing in the impossible.
Better than the movie.
This is one of those few cases in life when the movie was considerably better than the book. The conflict between the main character and his father drives the movie, but is completely absent in the novel. The changes made by Hollywood were actually wonderful.The book is okay, but it does not have that driving conflict to sustain it. I wholeheartedly recommend the film, but the book is not nearly as good.
Well it¿s supposed to be about dreams, magic, life and not about baseball...wrong it¿s about baseball and an American understanding that baseball is a way to unlock dreams, magic, and life.But I am not an American follower of Baseball so along with Underworld by Don DeLillo it went over my head (although DeLillo¿s books first chapter was a stunning, lyrical depiction of the centuries¿ baseball World Series final moments). So is Shoeless Joe...stunning, lyrical writing? No, assume wooden, workaday.Think I am being harsh? Well I look forward to a story based of a brickie who puts a goal up in Norfolk. George Best then appears to help him build the football pitch and gradually all the world ** players appear (Lev Yashin as goalie, Carlos Alberto Torres, Nílton Santos as full backs, Franz Beckenbauer, Bobby Moore as centre backs etc for one last game with the Brickie¿s long lost father as the ref. That I would understand so Nick Hornby get writing it. But for the moment I am sticking to the film of the book-Field of Dreams. And making a mental note to be wary of any book that has a sports theme!** run past me again how in Baseball one country = a world series whilst the 2006 World cup has 198 counties competing and over 700 million people watched the actual finals
I read this curtesy of one of Mcrosoft Readers free book releases. It or more likely the short story it was based on. is the basis for the film Field of Dreams.An elegic book about baseball and second chances reccomended to everyone whether you give a damn about the sport or not.
Field of Dreams is one of my all-time favorite baseball movies, I've seen it countless times and I never get tired of it. I'm so happy that I finally got to read the book, and I liked the book better than the movie. There was just more in the book. I definitely don't think this book is for everyone, it's definitely one of those books that are perfect for people who appreciate baseball and love a great baseball story, which this book definitely is.
2.5 Stars - Original review @ 125Pages.com I went into Shoeless Joe with such hope. I have not seen Field of Dreams, but love uplifting sports movies, so I thought I would love one in book form. But this was no uplifting sports movie, it was a strange tale of a man who builds a baseball field on his failing Iowa corn farm then leaves his wife and small child to kidnap famed writer J.D. Salinger and take him on a road trip. I’m sorry what? Where is my tale of a downtrodden man who has a vision and through that builds his dream on his farm? Instead I get a wacky buddy road trip comedy, complete with carnies and diner hold ups. The action on the farm is limited to the very beginning and the very end, and that is where the heart of the story was. A struggling man trying to save his farm and his family with a dream and pure gumption. Those parts were fantastic, but the rest was just ridiculous. The plot had its moments, but they were sadly few and far between. The family parts were great, but the whole kidnapping road trip aspect totally lost me. The world created was the same, certain select parts were crisp and vivid, then it veered into crazypants territory. The writing was fine, sentence structure wise, but the story was so over the top I couldn’t really see any fine nuances. The characters were a mashup of amazing and then not, they started strong but then went downhill the more I read. I had no emotional tie to any of the characters. Ray was dismissive of the real world and the potential harm he was bringing to his wife and child. God what an outfield,” he says. “What a left field.” He looks up at me and I look down at him. “This must be heaven,” he says. “No. It’s Iowa,” I reply automatically. Shoeless Joe is considered one of the greatest sports books written. I just didn’t see it. Less a book about baseball to me, and more a book about what too much Round-Up in a field will lead to. I do understand the baseball at the heart of the story and how it linked every part together, but failed to see the amazing parts as the random hostage taking of a reclusive writer and a road trip with said writer to pick up baseball ghosts took away from that for me. As did the husband and father endangering the future of his family by leaving them as their farm is about to be foreclosed on. Now, I don’t hate baseball and I know, national sport and all, but this book just didn’t do it for me.