Tuesday, October 03, 2023


WWW. WEDNESDAY asks three questions to prompt you to speak  bookishly. To participate, and to see how other book lovers responded, click here

PS I can no longer participate in WWW.WEDNESDAY via that link because her blog won't accept Blogger comments. I mention this only to save you the frustration I experienced trying to link up.

1. What are you currently reading? The Girls by Emma Cline. A middle-aged woman is getting by as a professional caretaker -- of other people, of other people's plants and pets and homes. Evie works hard and is very adept at blending into the woodwork. We soon find out why: she has a dark secret. As a young teen, back in 1969, she was a member of a cult. A notorious murderous cult. You know the one: a strange man collected California girls at a ranch and somehow persuaded them to kill.

This novel is a difficult, painful read. But not because of the homicidal lunacy of Charles Manson. Emma Cline has perfectly recreated how I felt during the most difficult, painful time of my life: my high school years. While reading certain passages about Evie's home life with her biological family, I actually "saw" my own dad as the father. Cline is that talented. This book has gotten that deep under my skin.  But it's heavy and consequential.

2. What did you recently finish reading? The Big Fella: Babe Ruth and the World He Created by Jane Leavy. His is still one of the most recognized faces in America. He was universally loved in his day for his outsized talent and personality. He continues to be revered today for his stats. A sabremetric analysis of his hitting and pitching places him near the top -- and that doesn't allow for the fact that he played in the Polo Grounds and that there were no rules preventing pitchers putting substances on the baseball. The Babe hit .342 in a park with ridiculous dimensions and against pitchers who threw spitballs. I am in awe.

He was also tireless in his time and attention to kids. I loved that about him! Orphanages, schools, hospitals ... when he was the most famous man in the country, he spent as much time as he could surrounded by children. Probably because he had a truly horrific childhood. He was entertaining, though not as heroic, off the field. He did indeed enjoy hotdogs, hookers and hootch. Again, his heartbreaking start to life left him with appetites impossible to satiate. 

I'm not surprised the Yankees treated him like shit at the end of his career. After everything he did for that franchise -- the money he brought to the Bronx is staggering, even by today's standards! I'm not a fan of Yankees management today and I see that ingratitude is just part of their culture. (If you're a Yankee fan and disagree, I warn you: don't get me started.) He was dead at 53 after a painful battle with cancer. He suffered so that I wanted him to die. Then I welled up when he did.

This book is hard for me to evaluate. Ms Leavy introduced me to details of The Big Fella's life, and for that I'm grateful. But the way it's organized made me crazy. Lots of flashbacks and fast forwards. For example, I didn't find out Babe and his first wife, Helen, adopted their daughter until Helen died in a fire. By then, the girl was, like, 10 years old. Huh? Adopting a child is no small detail. Distracting and frustrating!
3. What will read next? Hounded by David Rosenfelt. It's a puppy-centric mystery featuring my fantasy boyfriend, Andy Carpenter. I really need something light!