May 15, 1940
New York Giants
Polo Grounds, New York
Dear Mr. Banks:
I am a 12–year–old boy and I am dying from malaria. Please hit a home run for me because I don't think I will be around much longer.
Last week it was the plague. Now it's malaria. What do I look – stupid to you? You're lucky I don't send somebody over there to tap you on the conk. I am enclosing 1 last picture. Do not write to me again.
Nobody asked for your damn picture. I never even heard of you before. And you can forget about the home run too. The only reason I needed one was because the bullies who keep beating me up somehow thought you were my best friend and the homer was supposed to keep them from slugging me anymore. Thanks for nothing.
Can I go on a road trip with you?
Your arch enemy,
"Somehow" they thought I was your best friend? Where did they hear that from? A Nazi spy? J. Herbert Hoover? Franklin Delano Biscuithead? And didn't I tell you not to write to me anymore? Go bug DiMaggio.
P.S. And just because there's a spot open for a bat boy this summer doesn't mean your going to get it. Even if we ARE chips off the same block. May 15, 1940
The place is Brooklyn, the time is the early '40s, and young baseball fanatic Joey needs a hero badly in his life. How that hero becomes Charlie--and ultimately Joey himself--forms the dimensions of the novel's field, but it's the way the game is played that's so remarkable. The story's told not through conventional narrative but by way of Joey's abstract scrapbook: letters, postcards, news clippings, box scores, report cards, matchbook covers, dispatches from FDR, telegrams, even an invitation to Joey's own Bar Mitzvah and the gift list from the affair.
Delightful throughout, Summer develops a deeper traction when Charlie goes off to war, then turns poignant in its seemingly preordained aftermath. It is a triumph of style, to be sure, but a triumph of style without loss of substance. --Jeff Silverman