Last Days of Summer

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( 3,515 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780060821449: Last Days of Summer

The hilarious and heart–warming story about a down–and–out kid who finds inspiration in his favourite baseball hero.

In Brooklyn, 1940, a wisecracking, baseball loving twelve–year–old boy, Joey Margolis, is in desperate need of a hero. His rich father has recently divorced his mother, leaving her all but penniless, and she is forced to move herself and her son to an Italian dominated part of Brooklyn, where he's the only Jew in the area. Constant abuse from other boys in the neighbourhood prompts Joey to send letters to Charlie Banks, an up–and–coming star with the New York Giants, asking for a home run so he can tell everyone that it was for him. Joey uses every trick in the book to get what he wants and the friendship that comes out of their simple correspondence will change them both forever.

This improbable friendship is woven together through letters, postcards, notes, telegrams, newspaper clippings, report cards and ticket stubs, and includes a colourful cast of supporting characters.

o The joys and sorrows growing up will always have an audience and this novel sheds light on all the complexity of those difficult times, with humour and joy.

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Review:

In and of itself, the epistolary novel is nothing new; indeed, Ring Lardner wrote You Know Me Al, his classic diamond saga, as a series of letters home from fictional White Sox hurler Jack Keefe more than 80 years ago. With Last Days of Summer, Kluger has virtually reinvented the genre in his picaresque coming-of-age fable of future sportswriter Joey Margolis and his improbable relationship with Giants rookie sensation, Charlie Banks.

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

About the Author:

Steve Kluger has written extensively on subjects as far-ranging as World War II, rock 'n' roll, and the Titanic, and as close to the heart as baseball and the Boston Red Sox. He lives in Santa Monica, California.

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