Tag Archives: Davey Johnson

Books Acquired Recently: Holiday Gift Edition

Happily, I received a number of books as gifts this holiday season!

Brown, Craig. Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017.

I have become fascinated with Princess Margaret as a result of watching The Crown and look forward to reading this oral history about her. Incidentally, it drives me nuts that FSG does not use the Oxford Comma in their company name.

Johnson, Davey, with Erik Sherman. Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond. Chicago: Triumph Books, 2018.

Johnson  managed the 1986 New York Mets and thus played a major role in my childhood. I read the book the day after I received it and enjoyed it, though it was not as introspective as I would have liked it to be.

Knecht, Rosalie. Who is Vera Kelly? Portland: Tin House Books, 2018.

I had not heard of Knecht, but began reading this novel as soon as I got it and enjoyed it. Her writing is beautiful and clear.

Miller, Linsey. Mask of Shadows. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Fire, 2017.

I read a review of this book that intrigued me, but now I can’t remember why it intrigued me, so it will be a fun surprise when I get around to reading it!

Posey, Parker. You’re on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir. New York: Blue Rider Press, 2018.

I enjoy Posey’s work in Christopher Guest’s mocumentaries.

Sánchez González, Lisa. Boricua Literature: A Literary History of the Puerto Rican Diaspora. New York: New York University Press, 2001.

I still do not know nearly enough about Puerto Rican literature in either the U.S. or on the island, and am thus excited to read this book.

Schaberg, Christopher. The Textual Life of Airports: Reading the Culture of Flight. 2011. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.

I fly frequently as part of my job and thus spend a depressing amount of time in airports. I look forward to reading this book about literary representations of that experience.

Shapiro, Bill, with Naomi Wax. What We Keep: 150 People Share the One Object That Brings Them Joy, Magic, and Meaning. Philadelphia: Running Press, 2018.

A friend recently posted about this book on Facebook and I wanted to buy it immediately because I am very interested in the issue of personal archiving and am teaching a course on it this coming semester. I bought it with a Barnes & Noble gift certificate that I received.

Wiebe, Joseph R. The Place of Imagination: Wendell Berry and the Poetics of Community, Affection, and Identity. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2017.

I read a review of this book and it sounded interesting because of its methodology of reading literature theologically. I can’t stand Wendell Berry, but I am hoping that I can pick up some writing tools from Wiebe’s approach.

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Books Acquired Recently

Dykstra, Lenny. House of Nails: The Construction, the Demolition, the Resurrection: A Memoir of Life on the Edge. New York: Morrow, 2016.

As I have said here before, I am obsessed with the 1986 Mets, so I buy every book I can find about them. Dykstra’s second memoir (after Nails, which was published after the 1986 baseball season) was just published, and I bought it right away and read it this past weekend. It is an interesting book (and has blurbs from Jack Nicholson and Stephen King, which is quite impressive), and I learned some fascinating things about both the Mets and Dykstra (his discussion of Davey Johnson as a manager is especially revelatory), but my primary takeaway from the book is that Dykstra is a terrible person. He claims to have learned from his mistakes, but this supposed growth is nowhere evident in the tone of the book.

King, Michael A. Fractured Dance: Gadamer and a Mennonite Conflict Over Homosexuality. Telford: Pandora Press U.S., 2001.

As I do more and more scholarship on queer Mennonite literature, I thought it would be helpful to read this book, one of the first explicitly dealing with LGBT issues and Mennonitism. It approaches the subject from a theological perspective rather than a literary one, but the theological aspects of Mennonite literature are inescapable (as much as some in the field would like to get away from them), thus one must be somewhat conversant with theological texts to write about the literature.

Oliver, Mary. Thirst. Boston: Beacon, 2006.

I read a few poems by Oliver in an anthology as an undergraduate and didn’t like them, but then recently found out from a friend that Oliver is queer, and that some of her more recent poetry is explicitly so. Therefore I decided to give her another reading. I am interested to see how or whether my poetic tastes have changed in the intervening fifteen years.

Talese, Gay. The Voyeur’s Motel. New York: Grove, 2016.

I read an excerpt of this book several months ago in the New Yorker and was hooked. The book was just published this week, and I can’t wait to read it. It might be suitable for my  course on obsessions.

All of these books were bought on amazon.com.

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Thinking About Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry

I am hoping to visit New York City sometime this summer, and go to a Mets game. Last night I dreamt that I bought tickets to this game, and that Dwight Gooden would be pitching. I thought to myself, “How impressive that Gooden pitched the first game I ever attended, and he’ll be pitching this one, too. That’s a pretty good career.”

Gooden is long retired, but two of the three parts of that dream statement are true. Gooden pitched the first Mets game I ever attended, a win against Atlanta in 1985 (an account of this game can be found in Davey Johnson and Peter Golenbock’s book Bats [New York: Putnam, 1986] on page 210). Although I was unaware at the time of the amazing season Gooden was having (I was only five, so didn’t really understand the concept of statistics; Gooden went 24-4 that year with a 1.53 ERA and won the Cy Young Award), I already knew his name, and I love being able to say that I saw him in person during one of the best seasons any pitcher has ever had. The first Atlanta batter singled, but that was about it. The Mets won 16-4, and Darryl Strawberry (whose name I also knew) hit a grand slam. Also, the lady sitting next to me in the stands gave me some cookies (the weird thin wafer sandwich kind with vanilla creme layers, which were my favorite at the time), and my father bought me a pennant and a set of Mets wristbands, one of which I had to give to my sister when we got home.

People, myself included, tend to forget that Gooden had a good career because after the successes of his first few seasons he was supposed to have a great career. This potential was destroyed by drug abuse and its consequent legal problems. But he went 194-112 with a 3.51 ERA over sixteen seasons–with a winning record in all but four of them–and was an All-Star four times. That is nothing to sneeze at. The same (all of it, alas) can be said for Strawberry’s career, in which he hit 335 homeruns over seventeen seasons with eight straight All-Star selections from 1984-1991.

I admit that when I think of both of these men I think about their disappointments first. Together, they were the Mets version of Anakin Skywalker: the chosen ones who failed to fulfill that role, falling victim to the Dark Side instead. But this attitude isn’t quite fair to them. Aside from their individual accomplishments, they played central roles on the 1986 championship team and 1988 division winners, when Strawberry should have been voted Most Valuable Player (though again, my first 1988-related thought of Gooden is about his failure to close game four of the NLCS, even though that was just as much Johnson’s fault for not taking him out as Gooden’s). They both seem to have found some peace in their turbulent personal lives, and it is time for us as fans to come to peace with their impressive careers as well.

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