Thursday, September 07, 2006

W. P. Kinsella's Magic Time

My son Ben and I had noted enormous similarities between Shoeless Joe, on which "Field of Dreams" was based, and a second novel of Kinsella's, The Iowa Baseball Confederacy. Both books had Iowa, independent baseball, perfectly groomed fields, relationship with fathers, rips in time, oddly obsessed people, and a preoccupation with names. The Iowa Baseball Confederacy is the better book, though I admit it would be a difficult movie.

Ben brought back a third Kinsella from the library, Magic Time, and this leads us in turn to The Thrill of the Grass, which we have not read. The same features show up again: Iowa, fathers, independent baseball with perfectly groomed fields, oddly obsessed people, and the preoccupation with names again. The rips in time are there as well, but more subtle. The existence of a world where baseball is played forever, favorably contrasted to the regular world, is again prominent.

There is more sex in Magic Time, more real baseball history in Shoeless Joe, and more time-twisting in The Iowa Baseball Confederacy. Take your pick, I guess.


Ben Wyman said...

You should've pointed out that "Shoeless Joe" was made into the movie Field of Dreams. That usually perks people up to the idea.

Mmmm... magic... history... baseball... without Costner.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Reread. Repeat as necessary.

Kelly said...

I always thought that Kinsella's recurring use of just these elements was a wonderful example of “North American magical realism.” Great stuff.