I almost had to skip another weekly Review review (did I mention I’m moving?), but I figure a short one will do. I hope to run more reports from PEN World Voices soon this weekend too.
Toure reviews Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbor on the cover of this weekend’s New York Times Book Review, and most of the article has to do with racial identity. I’m a little disappointed in this tepid and tired subject. I read and liked Whitehead’s Apex Hides the Hurt and I once had a nice chat with him at some Litblog Co-op or Soft Skull party, but it never even occurred to me to register what race he was. I’m not sure if it’s Toure or Colson Whitehead, but somebody needs to get over being African-American here. (Meanwhile, I’m trying to get over being Jewish-American).
Ethnic obsessions aside, Toure does come up with one nice line about Whitehead’s main character:
Benji lives in a world not unlike Charlie Brown’s, where adults are mostly offstage.
Bruce Handy reviews two books about the New York Mets, The Complete Game: Reflections on Baseball, Pitching, and Life on the Mound by Ron Darling with Daniel Paisner and Straw: Finding My Way by Darryl Strawberry with John Strausbaugh. Handy claims to be a Mets fan, and his work looks good at first when he goes off on a rant about Alex Rodriguez’s steroid abuse and the New York Mets’s new stadium:
[Baseball] breaks your heart in crass, grubby, depressing ways. As when the star third baseman of your 10-year-old son’s favorite team grudgingly confesses to having used steroids. Or when your own favorite team knocks down its stadium and puts up a pretty taxpayer-supported park named for a taxpayer-financed bank and with 15,000 fewer seats than the old pile, so that when you try to buy tickets to individual games for your family, the only seats available to the general public start at $270 a pop. True, you can find cheaper seats for resale on StubHub, but why, in depression or boom, does such a thing as a $270 baseball ticket even exist? Too often, the taste baseball leaves behind is less bittersweet than just plain bitter.
However, Handy blows the outing here on two inexplicable bad moves. First, it’s a flat-out lie that all or even most tickets at CitiField cost $270. I just bought tickets for $23 each for a Friday night game in June against the Devil Rays. Anybody can go to NYMets.com or MLB.com and do the same.
The only way Handy’s statement makes sense is if you define “seats” to mean “great seats”. Which shows him to be a seating snob as well as an irresponsible journalist. Considering that the New York Mets organization is made up of human beings, isn’t it seriously wrong for the New York Times to publish an insulting fact about the Mets’ new stadium in a widely read publication when the insulting fact is patently false?
And shouldn’t a fact-checker have caught this?
Anyway … Handy should relax about where he sits, and just sneak up to the good seats after the sixth inning like I and my kids do.
Also finally, what the hell is a Met fan’s son doing with a Yankee third-baseman as his hero? The fact that Handy wasn’t dressing his kid in orange and blue and properly training him from day one (as I did with all of mine) proves what I suspected about Bruce Handy from the beginning: he is not a Mets fan.
Okay, enough about this, though Times ombudsman Clark Hoyt should check this case out. Back at the Book Review, I’ll give John Pipkin’s Woodsburner, a fictionalization of the life of Thoreau, a chance based on Brenda Wineapple’s measured praise.
I’ve had enough of all William F. Buckley’s damn relatives in the New York Times Book Review to last two lifetimes.
And Clive James’s review of John Updike’s final book of poetry Endpoint is beautifully done, though rather obviously a gift (I bet even in the future, John Updike will never be remembered for poetry).