When the original Ball Four, circa 1970, came out, I found myself somewhat uninterested, therefore didn't read it (or listen to) till now, 40 years later. In some respects I'm glad I waited. The expanded version Ball Four is more than a story about baseball its one of the human condition. Bouton goes beyond the original tome to his life after baseball which I found just as fascinating. While I am considerably younger than him I certainly appreciate the struggles that life leaves many of us . In his case the passing of a loved one was particularly tender. The raw honesty in his story telling along with a lively sense of humor makes Ball Four an excellent work.
As the title suggests this book was a bit of a golden nugget. Usually authors don't make good readers but Paul Shaffer proves that untrue. Throughout the reading there is a sense of respectability toward his subject matter whether family or friends. Such a refreshing contrast compared to the ego-driven work of Sammy Haggar in "Red".
Best of all for me were the references to his SNL experiences of such; not to exclude a happier look at Jerry Lewis in light of his close relationship to Richard Belzer. Highly recommended.
First King book for me because I have little attraction to his usual horror themes. Also have been really disappointed with his adaptations to film in same genre. This one is quite different and better than ever expected. Great character development and a sense of humanity. Hard to put down.
Have always enjoyed Frank Schaeffer's previous material. But this is not what you call "a home run". Nonetheless, he did make a few valid points. As an agnostic I find myself fighting the "atheist" label a nebulous task. So many presumptions that I prefer to use the term "non-theistic".(note: Many people just scratch their heads when they hear that term. Works for me as it avoids knee-jerk confrontations). Anyway, for the most part Schaeffer is right to criticize Hitchens and somewhat lesser so Dawkins and Harris. They can get somewhat overly demanding. On the other hand Dennet has a much different demeanor than the others. In Dennet's work," Breaking the Spell", you'll find that he bends over backwards to accommodate a theistic view. He merely thinks there may be ways to measure the religious experience in a more objective manner. Here is where I differ from Schaeffer who appears to use an emotionally simplistic appeal that falls a little short. Regardless of my opinion about this book , I still admire Schaeffer's courage to speak out in the public domain as he has for years.
Seldom does a book grab, hold, and sustain my attention. From the voice narration to the narrative itself Middlesex does the trick.
Having read his previous book, "Crazy for God", this one is a great follow-through. Again, there is a sense of brutal honesty along with a humility that brings out a truly humane account of life.
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