Heart of the Order

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9780030085031: Heart of the Order

A novel of passion and obsession, Heart of the Order is the story of Danny ("Kiss of the Wolf") Bacigalupo, a baseball player from the alleys of Chicago's North Side, whose life and career are shaped by a tragic childhood accident. Danny knows about guilt from the stern Irish women in black hoods and floor-length robes, but their words don't move him -- not until the death of Mickey Meenan.  It was an accident: A line drive off Danny's bat collided with young Mickey's Adam's apple. Danny manages to shake the accident, but he can't shake the presence of Mickey.  Even after fourteen years of pro ball he doesn't know whether he's Mickey or Danny, a swinger for the fences or a player who hits safely. A magic realism informs the novel and takes the form of a monologue from a father to his son.  The book's first half focuses on the love between Danny and another memorable outsider, Grace Jankowski -- the fat girl with the beautiful eyes.  The second half reveals the tough world of minor-league baseball and Danny's friendship with a black shortstop named Book Johnson.  Throughout both sections of the novel, baseball becomes a personal crucible as Danny struggles to find himself and a single identity. Novelist David Bradley, winner of 1982's PEN/Faulkner Award, praised "the wisdom and humor of the novel's narrative voice and the stylistic risks that have transformed this straightforward story into art."  A section of the novel appeared in TriQuarterly magazine; it has also been awarded the 1985 Virginia Prize for Fiction, and has won for the author a major fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Like The Natural and Shoeless Joe, this intriguing first novel uses the game of baseball for more interesting ends. The heroic ballplayer of the book is Danny Bacigalupo ("Kiss of the Wolf"), raised in the alleys of Chicago's North Side where, in a neighborhood baseball game, he accidentally kills Mickey Meenan with a hard line drive to the Adam's apple. A straightforward narrative to a pointas Danny describes his Italian family life and Catholic school education with its emphasis on guilt and retributionthe plot takes a radical turn when Mickey's spirit enters Danny's body, and the guilt-ridden ballplayer agrees to let Mickey live through him. In the second half of the book, Danny (with Mickey) embarks on a pro career starting in the Deep South. Though much of the tale's early drive and energy flags in the later sections, this is still an exciting, unusual book by a talented and challenging writer.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

In this lively monologue addressed to young son Tip, former professional baseball player and current major league scout Daniel Bacigalupo contemplates his youth and coming of age in Chicago. Profoundly influenced by the accidental death of a neighborhood kid during a ball game (one of Danny's line drives struck him in the Adam's apple), Danny "suffers" the schizophrenic presence of the dead boy throughout high school, the minor leagues, and major league baseball. Bacigalupo's story begins with a flippant, jocular tone; however, it quickly hits a comfortable, engaging stride, describing the thrills, agonies, and occasional epiphanies of growing up Catholic, Italian, poor, and naturally athletic. Not as acerbically witty as Dan Jenkins's Life Its Ownself , but more fully comprehended and human. Recommended, especially for baseball fans. Rex E. Klett, Anson Cty. Lib., Wadesboro, N.C.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Published by Henry Holt & Co (1986)
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