Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Book Review of Faithful by Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King

My Rating: A damn good way to relive the 2004 season.

My favorite thing about this book is the interplay between the two authors. King and O'Nan switch off in their coverage but manage to give their own separate viewpoints on each game, interspersing the blog-type format with transcriptions from emails between games. King's material is written in bold type so it's easy to distinguish the two writers but even without the formatting, it's pretty easy to tell the two apart and that's one of the strengths of this book. If one was to make an analogy to sports commentators, O'Nan is the chronicler, the main commentator who does most of the documentation about what goes on during any one game. King is the color commentator, adding his own odd and amusing spin to the season. Together, they do an excellent job of covering the ups and downs of the season. It's also a lot of fun to remember the games they're describing - the game against Tampa Bay that the Sox won because the Rays' starting pitcher was thrown out for hitting Kevin Millar, for example - and you end up with a neat "I was here at such-and-such a place when that happened! I remember that really well!" Kinda like people remembering where they were during the Kennedy Assasination, only less morbid.

I felt like I really got to know both writers through this book, much more than I would have through in a more formal writing format. Again, this was a really appropriate setup for this kind of book - you want the readers to relate to the writers as fans as much as possible so that the shared experience of watching the Sox comes through as much as possible. Again, having the two different styles of writing helped in the relation aspect as well; you don't have a dry chronicle or something goofy that doesn't really cover the details of the season well, but something in the middle that is really, really good. As much as possible, it's the sort of model I want to follow as I continue to write about baseball myself.

One thing I noticed and I'm not so sure this is a complaint: the mid-season collapse didn't seem as bad the second time around as when I was living it. I'm not sure if this is because I was being overly dramatic about the whole experience (even looking back at my blog posts from the time, I still get a sense of how upset I was) or just a different perspective improved with some post-season editing, but it does make for some easier reading. In sum, though, this isn't a bad thing at all. Go and read this book.