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Brittle Innings

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  299 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Acclaimed novelist Michael Bishop combines humor, tragedy and suspense to tell a uniquely American story reminiscent of both Of Mice and Men and Shoeless Joe. For a 17-year-old shortstop from Oklahoma, the summer of 1943 would be a season to remember.
Hardcover, 502 pages
Published April 1st 1994 by Bantam (first published 1994)
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Jun 18, 2011 Al rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the joys of reading is discovering a book that you had bought years ago but never gotten around to reading. I finally read "Brittle Innings," and I was genuinely moved by what a brilliant piece of baseball fiction it is. I had only read one work by Michael Bishop in the past, a sci-fi collection of stories, and this only shows you shouldn't narrowly assume authors can only write well in one genre. This book ranks up there with Lardner and Harris with its joy of language. Set in Georgia du ...more
Aug 16, 2007 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For all that I'm not overly fond of actually watching baseball, I like reading fictional stories about it an awful lot. I've read (and liked) Field of Dreams, The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, Screwball, The Last Days of Summer, and many more. The mythology of baseball seems to lend itself to stories that aren't exactly grounded in our reality.

But the king of that sort of basball book has got to be Brittle Innings. One the one hand, it's a gritty, detailed portrait of life in the southern baseball
Damien Cowger
This is a very strange book. It reads like a hybrid of Frankenstein and Ball Four with only a fraction of those books' talents. To be fair, it DID keep me engaged. Bishop clearly knows the game of baseball and creates a highly believable baseball world in the American south during World War II. His writing is solid on a sentence level and he has effective control of various characters and their odd southern personalities. Unfortunately, the tone of the book is inconsistent. At times, the book se ...more
Sep 04, 2013 Helen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Based in the deep South during World War 2, Brittle Innings follows the baseball exploits of Danny Boles, a sometime mute, and his larger than life room and team mate, Henry "Jumbo" Cherval. There is a big mystery, no pun intended on the origin of Danny's friend. Is he a golem? Sasquatch? An alien? Frankenstein's monster?

The answer, when it comes, is hardly a surprise, thanks to a gratuitous scene in a movie theater. If the book concerned only this plotline, or if it turned out that Henry is ju
Mar 09, 2015 fromcouchtomoon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book WITH baseball, not ABOUT baseball.WWII deep South displays its prejudices, with monsters in every kitchen and train stop, while the real monster struggles with his own humanity. Borders on cliché, yet beautiful and hard to put down.
Dec 22, 2012 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m a baseball fan who also much admires the writing of Michael Bishop, so have to wonder why it took me until 2012 to read his superb 1994 novel Brittle Innings. Part of the reason has to be that my partner George Zebrowski and I have long had the habit of acquiring books and then slipping them onto bookshelves, as with bottles of wine in a wine cellar, to age a bit before being read. (This method works best with books that have been heavily publicized; you’ll either enjoy and appreciate them a ...more
May 21, 2012 Kevin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was told that this was the only juxtaposition of a baseball book with science fiction. It turned out to be one of the most odd things that I have ever read. Danny Boles is a seventeen year-old shortstop in the midst of World War II. When he graduates high school early, he's hired to play minor league ball for a Class C team deep in Georgia. When he arrives, he plays dumb, literally, to cover his stammer, anxiety, difficulties dealing with men. He is assigned to room with the gargantuan and rec ...more
Guy Salvidge
Mar 27, 2015 Guy Salvidge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been meaning to read this book for at least ten years, since I read a review by David Pringle raving about it. Spoilers be damned, here comes the punchline: it's a novel about Frankenstein's Monster living well into the twentieth century and playing minor league baseball during WWII. Hank 'Jumbo' Clerval is the monster (and he hits monster home runs) and his sidekick and our protagonist is young Danny Boles, a likeable fellow. To be honest, I'd give this four and a half stars if I could as ...more
Feb 15, 2015 Joe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book although it was a little strange. The main character frustrated me and it seemed that the author focused more on the wrong supporting characters. The sub-plot of the "creation" of Henry Clerval was distracting and, from my perspective, only took away from the main story rather than add to it. Additionally, the wild course of events at the end of the book were a disappointment. Otherwise, the book is a great novel with an entertaining story.
Octavio Villalpando
Un día, un buen amigo llegó con unos libros y me los dejó. Este pasado año hemos hecho eso, yo le presto algunos libros, él me presta algunos suyos y así. Como compartimos gustos, es muy fácil complementar nuestras lecturas con el contenido de nuestras bibliotecas particulares. En el último intercambio, me dejó lo habitual: libros de horror, acerca de cosas del género y también me dejó "Jugadas decisivas", que en la portada de la edición mostraba una estampa de beisbol y ya. En la contraportada ...more
Aug 31, 2013 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
This novel was really enjoyable, and quite perfect August reading. In 1943, 17 year old shortstop Danny Boles is recruited straight from high school into the Highbridge Hellbenders, minor league team in the Chattahoochee Valley League. A traumatic experience* during his trip to Georgia has rendered him mute. Upon arrival at the Hellbender boarding house and headquarters, Danny becomes the room-mate of "Jumbo" Henry Clerval, an unusually large and odd man who plays first base. Over the course of ...more
Aug 27, 2016 Yofish rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-sports
I think the author really just bit off way too much here.

At the core is a story about a kid who's been a good baseball player in high school. It's 1943, so lots of folks are off to war, and he gets a chance to play minor league ball. So there's a coming-of-age thing; there's the friction because we have basically a couple of dozen baseball players and why aren't they off fighting like good 'murcans should?; there's some racial tension, as one of their best players isn't playing because he's bla
Joe Santoro
Plot: Danny Boles is the greatest scout ever, but few recall back in the day when he was an extremely promising shortstop in the CVL... this is his story, and that of the rest of the Highridge Hellbenders in their pennant winning 1943 season.

I really loved this book as a historical fiction about baseball in the war era. Bishop did a fantastic job capturing what I know of the era, the time period, the whole thing. My only slight issue is the framing sequence, which essentially spoiled the ending
Sep 02, 2015 Francesco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nell’intervista concessa qualche tempo fa a Fantascienza e Dintorni, il due volte Premio Nebula Michael Bishop lo aveva detto a chiare lettere. Per quanto io insistessi nel proporre “Il tempo è il solo nemico” come il suo capolavoro assoluto, Michael controbatteva ritenendo “Brittle Innings” il proprio miglior libro, e non nascondeva in alcun modo un giudizio piuttosto negativo su tutte le proprie opere di genere a distanza di tanti anni, sia in termini di forma che di sostanza, dando prova a un ...more
Jun 01, 2012 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: baseball/fantasty readers
Recommended to Joyce by: Mark
Shelves: favorites
A friend at work asked me to read this as it was his favorite book. WHen I do that I never read anything, I just open the book and start reading, so I had NO IDEA about the concept of what the book was going to be about. It started of slow (for me anyway) but I trusted him so I kept going. Well it turned out to be one of the best, most SHOCKING storylines I have ever read. A truly WTF moment when you realize what is really going on and who the charachter turns out to really be!!! I won't give it ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Brittle Innings" is just amazing. It's a great Southern Gothic. It's a great baseball novel. It's a great fantasy novel. It's a heartbreakingly beautiful book in the same league as "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Great Santini" (okay, maybe some folks won't put "Santini" on so high a pedastle...). Jumbo Hank Clerval is a character who will stick with you for a long, long time. You really shouldn't read too many reviews of this book here because they give away one of the greatest reveals ever. ...more
This is an excellent story about a youngster, Daniel Boles, fresh out of high school and his adventure as a Class-C minor league ballplayer in 1943. I loved the descriptions of ball games and Danny's teammates. One teammate in particular becomes his friend and one teammate is the protagonist.
The atmosphere of small-town America in the South during WWII is captured well; the slang and slurs to the brands on ad boards in the outfield. Many secrets (one is reason for my fantasy bookshelf--no spoil
Mar 24, 2016 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brittle Innings may not deserve a 5-star rating on its merits alone--it's not without flaws--but it was such a pleasant surprise that I had to give it more than 4 stars. I was originally interested in the book because of its strange premise: Frankenstein's creature plays minor league baseball in WWII Georgia. But Bishop takes what could have been an absurd gimmick and weaves it into a highly entertaining and occasionally moving book about social acceptance and justice. A great example of the who ...more
Jul 04, 2016 Lara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical baseball fiction with a thread of fantasy, as one of Danny's teammates on the 1943 Hellbenders has a fascinating and storied past. I honestly enjoyed the baseball parts more than the fantasy element. Do be advised that as the book takes place in the rural South in 1943, there are multiple instances of casual (cruel) racism and sexism.
Feb 05, 2012 Zeo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: frankensteins
I don't even know how to explain how much I enjoyed this book. I think it's relevant that I don't usually develop crushes on characters and I was totally soft for Clerval in no time. This was a perfect homage and development to Shelley's original and one of the rare books I'd be happy to reread purely for the pleasure of it.
Ryan Lazarus
May 21, 2014 Ryan Lazarus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Frankenstein's monster plays baseball. Why the hell are you still reading this?

In all seriousness, despite the (at first glance) ridiculous premise, this is treated with all the severeness and humanity a proper sequel to Frankenstein deserves. Highly recommended.
May 14, 2007 Craig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who liked "Field of Dreams"
The best Frankenstein story I can remember ever reading, as well a great baseball novel. Lots of other cool stuff, too! Sounds like quite a mishmash, but it all comes together poignantly. Bishop perfected "magic realism" before it became the literary buzzword of choice.
May 19, 2016 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ill, baseball
This was a strangely wonderful book. The descriptions of baseball games were lyric and beautiful. From the firm world of WWII era baseball, the book merged into a book about Frankenstein's monster. Somehow it worked.
Nov 22, 2015 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful little gem of a novel. It is raggedy and patched together, but works none-the-less, and fitting, considering that a principal character is also a patch-work man. Bishop does a marvelous job in building a convincing 1942 milieu. And it's a baseball book. Who could ask for more?
Diane Baker
Nov 08, 2012 Diane Baker rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
I read this several years ago when it was considered for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. A very good book with engaging characters, and a subtle, nuanced story arc.
Michael Williams
A wonderful, genre-bending coming-of-age story, where yet another American baseball novel gathers traction and wonder from being wed to one of the great proto-SF fictions. I loved it on all counts.
May 06, 2007 vladimir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
-a sublime coming-of-age story set in the USA during WWII that carefully blends , the "Frankenstein" mythos, baseball, and a bit of that old "Dandelion Wine" magic for a truly memorable read...
Michael Burianyk
Wow! Michael Bishop is a great writer and I can't understand why he isn't better known. Brittle Innings is a wonderful novel about baseball and ... well, it's better to find out for yourself.
Michael Brockley
I like baseball novels. I like quirky novels that unleash genuine surprises. This is one of the books I take with me to the island.
Lianne Burwell
Lianne Burwell rated it liked it
Oct 05, 2011
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Michael Lawson Bishop is an award-winning American writer. Over four decades & thirty books, he has created a body of work that stands among the most admired in modern sf & fantasy literature.

Bishop received a bachelor's from the Univ. of Georgia in 1967, going on to complete a master's in English. He taught English at the US Air Force Academy Preparatory School in Colorado Springs from 1
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