Thursday, August 23, 2007
Deford Hits a Dinger
Technically, and according to the subtitle ("A Tale of Modern Baseball"), The Entitled is a baseball novel. But calling this just a baseball novel is like saying The Road is just a post-apocalypse novel. There is so much more to it. It's literature.
The lead character of The Entitled is an old-school lifetime minor leaguer, Howie Traveler, who finally gets his shot to manage in the big leagues with the Cleveland Indians. His lifelong dream is compromised, though, when he catches his star player Jay Alcazar (possibly) raping a woman. Now Howie has a moral dilemma. Does he protect his player and his job, or does he come out against the player and jeopordize his career in the process?
This is also the story of Alcazar. It would have been easy to have him be a cartoon character, the selfish, "entitled" superstar modern ballplayer. But Deford gives him a complex character, too, and there is a nifty subplot with Alcazar returning to Cuba to locate family that was left behind when his parents escaped with the infant Jay.
Deford does an excellent job of mixing up the chapters, changing the POV, and feeding the reader the background on the individual characters in a non-linear fashion. And Deford's baseball knowledge and observations are spot-on. You can understand what he's saying, and the nuances of baseball even if you are not a fan. That is the beauty and the art of his writing.