Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Year of the Historical: Brookyln Nine

The Brooklyn Nine The Brooklyn Nine Alan Gratz

9 generations of a family, 9 short stories from each one, 9 innings of baseball.

We meet the garment industry workers on Lower East Side tenements in the 1840s, Civil War soldiers, numbers runners, and All-American Girls Baseball League players. The Schneiders move from Manhattan to Brooklyn, they change their name to Snider, baseball is codified as a sport, the Dodgers move to LA. The family confronts racism in baseball and is the victim of anti-semetism. They fear the Russians and Sputnik, and one of them pitches a perfect game.

There is much more baseball in this book than in Samurai Shortstop, but I liked this one even better. Gratz perfectly captures these slices of America-- the people, the time, the culture, the fears, as well as giving us a history of the game. These are short stories, one for each generation, but in a matter of a few pages, we come to love a character (and I loved it when they appeared again in later stories as parents and grand-parents.)

And of course, the archivist librarian in me loves the story of how, in 2002, Snider Flint tries to trace the provenance of one baseball bat and then tries to authenticate his findings. But, my favorite story was how in 1926, when Frankie Snider runs numbers for the crime boss Mickie Fist. It broke my heart that in the next story, Frankie who was such a whiz at math, only got to finally be an engineer when all the boys went off to war.

Over all, super fantastic.

Book Provided by... my local library

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