El's Reviews > Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans Chronicle the Historic 2004 Season

Faithful by Stewart O'Nan
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's review
Feb 26, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: 21st-centurylit, cuckoos, cultural-studies-and-other, put-it-in-your-journal, yinzers-n-at
Read from February 25 to 26, 2012

It was recommended to me by someone I trust to skip this book. I told him I don't care that much about baseball, and I care even less about the Red Sox, so the only reason I would read it is because of my undying adoration of both Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King. I read a couple reviews by people here, all of whom seem to agree that if you don't care about the Sox or baseball it would be silly to read this book.

I'm not going to say I agree or disagree with them. I will say that I actually sorta kinda enjoyed this. I didn't expect to, but it happened. It totally snuck up on me.

O'Nan and King are both incredible fans of the Red Sox, and this is their documentation of the 2004 season in which they made it to (and ultimately won) the World Series for the first time in a really long time. These two fans exchanged e-mails throughout the season, kept diaries, went to games together, talked some smack, and never gave up hope.

I don't think it was as badly written as some of the reviews complain. I think what those people focus on is the subject itself. Considering I don't follow baseball and don't give a hoot about RBIs and other stats, I was able to just focus on what I think is the bigger issue at hand: The undying love and affection two writers have for one baseball team. I can appreciate when anyone is so faithful to whatever; in my case I have an undying love and affection for books. Faithful was dedicated to the authors' "baseball widows", Trudy and Tabitha, which made me think if I ever wrote a book about books I would have to dedicate it to my family as well - the ones who can (and have) spent hours with me in bookstores (more than one in a day), or specifically my oldest brother who went with me to Pearl S. Buck's house that one time only to find out I was supposed to have worked that day but (WHOOPS!) I didn't realize and I got in trouble later.

Baseball isn't my obsession of choice, but I can respect it. Well, now I can. My ex was an avid Mets fan and I hated hearing about it, but that's a different story. I grew up with some baseball in my history. Our parents took us to some games, strangely, and all three of us played T-ball. (Some of us played worse than others. It took me a while to understand the concept was to hit the ball and not the T.) Some time ago when my dad's job moved to another state, he had to go ahead to try to find a place to live and my mom had to stay behind to try to sell our house. My brothers and I were adults at that point and pretty much lived on our own, but would all try to get together on the weekends when Dad would come back. I thought it'd be cool to ride down to Memphis with him one weekend and then ride back to Missouri with him the following weekend. During the week in Memphis I did my own thing while Dad worked, but one evening he brought home tickets to a AAA game. We laughed about it because it really wasn't us, that's not our schtick. But we went anyway. I can't tell you now who played or who won or even what the score was. But I can tell you that it was a fun time, that it was great to be able to spend that one-on-one time with my dad. It's not something we had really done before and it's not something we'll likely do again. So I appreciated it.

And that seems to be what baseball is for me. It's something that's just sort of there, I can take it or leave it, but the memories I have of it are pretty fun. I like ballparks, oddly. The smell and the sounds mostly. But I don't follow the teams, and maybe that's because we moved so much that it was hard to give our loyalty to any specific team.

Or maybe (most likely) it's because overall we're a pretty nerdy family, and even though we all tried sports at one time or another, it just wasn't for us.

Yes, my eyes started to glaze over a time or two during reading this book - there are lots of names and stats that I don't care about. But the other part of the book is the connection between O'Nan and King, the way their friendship developed over this season, the anecdotes about their families and their own writing... those are things I held on for, gimme more gimme more.

So, okay, as a sports book I can't say whether or not it's any good. I have a feeling they weren't able to capture the moment the Red Sox won the World Series, and in fact that bit seemed a bit breezy. But as a work of non-fiction about being faithful to a sports team and what it means to be faithful? That was pretty good.

And, really. I truly adore O'Nan and King. I'm glad they're friends. I think they're good for each other. And, hell, if they'd have me, I would totally go to a Red Sox game with them.
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