Saturday, September 17, 2016

RIP, W.P. Kinsella

W.P. Kinsella on the Skydome turf before a World Series
game in 1992. The novelist was born and lived in Canada,
although at least two of his works were set in Iowa.
News broke late Friday that novelist W.P. Kinsella -- the author of the novel that became the movie "Field of Dreams" -- had died after exercising Canada's doctor-assisted suicide law. He was 81.

"Shoeless Joe," published in 1982, is generally regarded as his masterpiece, and the 1989 movie certainly emphasized its popularity. Such lines as "If you build it, he will come" (or they will come) and "Is this heaven? No, it's Iowa" resonate still.

But I, personally, prefer his "Iowa Baseball Confederacy," a novel (also set in Iowa) that imagines an unending exhibition game involving a timetraveling amateur player, the 1908 Chicago Cubs and an mysteriously omnipotent Indian.

Kinsella was involved in an auto accident in 1997 that essentially ended his creative period. The ailment that led him to pull the plug on his life was not disclosed.

There have been other good baseball novels, and arguably some better. But few touched readers as profoundly as "Shoeless Joe," and that is no small legacy.

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