A star for The Brooklyn Nine!

>> Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I was actually on the phone with editor Liz when an e-mail hit her inbox with the news that The Brooklyn Nine is getting a starred review from Booklist in the February 1st issue! Booklist is the official review journal of the American Library Association, and I couldn't be more thrilled. Booklist and ALA both have been very supportive of me and my books since giving Samurai Shortstop a starred review of its own, and naming it a top ten book of the year.

Here's the review. I've thrown in a little star, because I can. :-)

Gratz (Samurai Shortstop, 2006) builds this novel upon a clever enough conceit—nine stories (or innings), each following the successive generations in a single family, linked by baseball and Brooklyn—and executes it with polish and precision. In the opening stories, there is something Scorsese-like (albeit with the focus on players, not gangsters) in Gratz’s treatment of early New York: a fleet-footed German immigrant helps Alexander Cartwright (credited with creating modern baseball) during a massive 1845 factory fire; a young boy meets his hero, the great King Kelly, who by age 30 is a washed-up alcoholic scraping by as a vaudeville act. The pace lags a bit in the middle innings, where a talented young girl stars in the WW II–era All-American Girls Baseball League and a card-collecting boy lives in fear of the Russians, Sputnik, and the atomic bomb. But the final two stories provide a flurry of late-inning heroics: a Little League pitcher’s shot at a perfect game told with breathtaking verve; and a neat stitching-together effort to close the book. Each of the stories are outfitted with wide-ranging themes and characters that easily warrant more spacious confines, but taken together they present a sweeping diaspora of Americana, tracking the changes in a family through the generations, in society at large for more than a century and a half, and, not least, in that quintessential American pastime. — Ian Chipman

Thanks, Ian, and thanks Booklist! The Brooklyn Nine goes on sale March 5th.

Author's note: Interestingly, this is the second review in a row that has called my writing "polished"...


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