Cole Riann's Reviews > Out in the Field

Out in the Field by Kate McMurray
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Jun 06, 13

bookshelves: m-m, m-m-contemporary, m-m-closeted-coming-out, m-m-diverse, m-m-sports, favorites, armchair-reviews, rereads
Recommended to Cole by: Lauraadriana
Recommended for: Baseball Fans!
Read from June 04 to 06, 2013

Second Read - 6/4/13 to 6/6/13

Review posted at The Armchair Reader for Kate McMurray Week!

I can't help it -- this is still my favorite book from Kate McMurray!

Matt Blanco is a Brooklyn boy, born into a crazy Italian family and famous as a top professional baseball player, nearing the end of his long career with the Brooklyn Eagles. He is also gay. There's never even been a rumor of his sexuality, though he's a perennial bachelor, because of his complete dedication towards discretion. If baseball wasn't the true first love of his life, then he might be miserable. But things start to change when a rookie joins the Eagles out of the farm system.

Iggy Rodriguez is a magnificent player, the kind of player who will probably eclipse Matt's own fame and talent. And he's incredibly beautiful. Matt, normally the welcoming unofficial captain, is nervous around him because of his attraction to Iggy, no matter that he's thirteen years younger than him and his presence on the team shows that the Eagles are most likely slowly pushing out the older guys to make way for new, young talent.

Iggy has his own problems concerning Matt. The Great Matt Blanco is his all-time idol and crush -- a man who he fantasized about as a teenager as he looked down from the walls of Iggy's bedroom. Meeting his idol is one thing, but to find out that he's also gay and in the closet and that they have a mutual attraction? That blows his mind.

The two find a way to make it work, always putting discretion above all else. They manage to go years in love and playing together until the magic just can't last. Matt's having problems with his knee and it looks like it won't hold out much longer. Looking at retirement is like the end of his life. Navigating the world of professional baseball with such a secret is hard, but as their lives change around them and pressure mounts, both Matt and Iggy have to find a way to put their relationship above the sport they both love.

First, Kate's love of baseball really comes through in this book. I mean, the sport is shown from both positive and negative angles, but the love of the game is central in the book. It's what initially bring both Matt and Iggy together, and it is at times what keep them together as their common language. Second, Iggy and Matt are amazing characters. It is only in the first few pages of the book that we're shown the dichotomy between the young and old on the team, pitting both Matt and Iggy at different ends of their career. But it is a central theme. It's a bit obstacle, mostly to Matt who has a problem facing the end of his baseball career, but also in the sense that Matt, who already has a problem with change, doesn't want to rock the boat to sacrifice Iggy's career. But the dichotomy between the old and new as they're presented also works well for their relationship. Even though it means that they often clash, they're two sides of a coin also. Where Matt represents a more classic vision of the sport and the culture, Iggy is the idealist who breaks through his stagnancy, to show him that there is hope that there could be a real active out gay athlete.

And third is the main reason that I think this book is so successful. We already have a great setup story and background of professional sports. And we have two really wonderful characters with a great shifting dynamic. What makes them come together to work so well in this book is the pace of the story. The whole story covers roughly three to four years. We're given several major sections of the story in real time with transitions of quick narration to bring us forward. It moves at a quick pace which keeps the story in momentum, but which also allows the characters to grow farther than you might expect. I remember when I first read this, I kept feeling like I was probably getting toward the end, only to realize that I still had half the book left to read. The forward momentum brings the story into new times and into new shifting dynamics between Iggy and Matt, showing how they work around them, how they adapt to new times and how they, eventually, use that time to grow closer and carve a life for themselves.

The story really is beautiful. There's no needless angst, only what is appropriate for the situation and isn't long-lasting. And, after all that, the story ends beautifully. Every time, every damn time I cry when I read the last 7 to 8% of the book, from the 12 year old fan that comes up to Matt in the stands to the purple hats to Iggy playing in the game. The story ends on a high, very optimistically but not unrealistically, and with Iggy and Matt in a really good place. I couldn't be happier.

I think I appreciated this book more the second time around. And I know that I appreciated it more after reading all of Kate's books back to back. I can see where there are some sylistic differences between this book and some of the others. None of the others are formulaic, but something about this book just really works for me. It will always be a book that I'll come back to and read over again. And it's one that you should read as well!

First Read - 4/25/12 to 4/26/12

4.5 stars (rounded up to 5 because this book just had that... indefinable something that made it a truly wonderful read).

I honestly haven't read a book in a while that drew me in so well as this. It took me a while to get into the story, probably because I was going up against all my preconceived notions about m/m closeted athlete books, but around the quarter mark everything clicked, the setting, the narration, Ig and Matt together and the perfect amount and use of angst all rolled into one.

As far as the technical aspect, I thought it was played perfectly, not overhanded but enough to immerse the reader into the characters who speak baseball in a technical way and live it that way. That particular aspect of the book reminded me quite a bit of the Kyell Gold Out of Position books (though not football and not anthropomorphic characters, obviously).

The sense of change over time is a big part of this story, which is what really facilitated the talk of changing views of gay athletes in a successful way here. That also gave the story a more epic quality, as the time, experiences, and relationships grow and change, which added more layers to Ig and Matt, as well as their surrounding characters, though mostly the atmosphere of baseball. From the first paragraph about the OCD of baseball players and their longstanding rituals and traditions, to the ending where (view spoiler) outline in a broader spectrum the changes that are being singled out here, within the relationships and personal lives of the characters, specifically the challenges that Iggy and Matt both face.

I ended this book just thinking that Kate McMurray must have been writing in the sweet spot, because I could definitely feel it when I was reading. There's a lot of love put in to this book and I felt like somehow, in a way that I can't describe, Kate McMurray wrote the first m/m book about closeted gay athletes that I felt really hit the mark, at least with me.

So bravo! I laughed, and cried.. yada yada. It was good :D
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Reading Progress

52.0% "I don't know what happened, I was having so much trouble getting into this and then right around 30% it just clicked for me. Maybe it was the impending angst just around the corner but now I'm fucking crying and I didn't see that one coming at all! It's worse having to read about a big tough guy breaking down like this." 2 comments

Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Lauraadriana Yay!!! Glad you loved it! Love Iggy and Matt!

Cole Riann I know, I loved them together!

message 3: by Ami (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ami It is definitely one of my favorite m/m sports-related books!

Cole Riann Definitely!

MsMelbourne Brilliant. Loved it - there was such a warmth about it.

Cole Riann Yes! I want to read this again :) I've been wanting to read Four Corners but then I start, inevitably, thinking of Kate and this book instead and want to read this one again, lol.

Cole Riann Thanks babe!

Tara Great review, can't wait to read this!

Lauraadriana I just re-read this book like a month ago...Getting notices for your updates review makes me want to re-re-re-re-read it! Such a great book!

message 11: by Cole (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cole Riann Tara wrote: "Great review, can't wait to read this!"

Thanks! You really should read it soon, Tara! It's one of the best books :)

message 12: by Cole (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cole Riann Lauraadriana wrote: "I just re-read this book like a month ago...Getting notices for your updates review makes me want to re-re-re-re-read it! Such a great book!"

I know!! Can you believe this was only the second time I read it? I love it so much!

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