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The Iowa Baseball Confederacy

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,073 ratings  ·  153 reviews
Bearing W.P. Kinsella's trademark combination of "sweet-natured prose and a richly imagined world" (Philadelphia Inquirer), The Iowa Baseball Confederacy tells the story of Gideon Clark, a man on a quest. He is out to prove to the world that the indomitable Chicago Cubs traveled to Iowa in the summer of 1908 for an exhibition game against an amateur league, the Iowa Baseba ...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published March 14th 2003 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 1986)
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The Iowa Baseball Confederacy by W. P. Kinsella is a group selection in the baseball book group for December 2016. Filled with magical imagery and historical anecdotes about both baseball and American history, the novel reflects Kinsella's love for the game. Using baseball as a metaphor to express time immemorial, Kinsella pens a fun read enjoyed by baseball fans everywhere.

Gideon Clarke of Onamata, Iowa has been carrying the secret of the Iowa Baseball Confederacy since his father passed it on
Dan Porter
Jun 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: baseball
Kinsella is the Gabriel Garcia Marquez of baseball. The way he weaves words together to frame the national pastime and the American heartland in magical realism is beautiful.
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
This is a fascinating novel. Stylistically it’s unique and reads like a dream — anachronistic with heavy doses of magic realism. There are no antagonists nor villains in this story. There is a cataclysmic flood that happens during a 2,000 inning baseball game that adds some drama. The characters, beyond the protagonist, are not well developed — similar to Kinsella’s more famous novel ‘Shoeless Joe’ where baseball ghosts also converge on a ball field in central Iowa .

The only real conflict in the
Harold Kasselman
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
"I won't be moved". If this novel is typical of magical realism, I won't be moved to read another example. While the plot had the making of a good story in the mold of Darryl Brock's "If I never get back", the fantasy and mysticism of Kinsella's book falls flat. It is repetitious and even a baseball fanatic such as I can not deal with a 2,000 inning game. Maybe it is beyond my intelligence level or my ability to appreciate magical realism, but for whatever reason, it doesn't work for me. ...more
Apr 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Henrik by: Claes Brameus
Shelves: favorites
W.P Kinsella is not your normal author. He's Canadian, and likes to write about baseball. But it's baseball with a twist. As a metaphor for life, and with some magic woven into it. If you think "Field of Dreams" you are close. It was based on another of his books.

The Iowa Baseball Confederacy is my favorite of the Kinsella books I've read. It has a deep and intricate weave of characters and events. At the same time it has some quirky episodes that will pop into your head when you least expect it
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
Baseball lends itself to obsession. From young boys spending every dime of their allowance money on trading cards to grown men spending every spare moment crunching numbers in a pursuit of the perfect metric, the game's hold runs deep.

Gideon Clarke's fixation is more specific than most. Convinced that the Chicago Cubs visited his hometown in 1908 for an epic exhibition game against a collection of all-stars from a competent but relatively obscure circuit known as the Iowa Baseball Confederacy, h
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
It took me a long time to warm up to this story - at first it just seemed creepy and sad. I was also disappointed to discover that it was straight-up magical fantasy, though I wouldn't have minded had I known that going in. I enjoyed the baseball parts. I was utterly confused by the ending - not a clue what that was. ...more
Blaine DeSantis
I read this book 20 years ago and found it to be a major disappointment this time around. I was interested in the time travel aspects of the book, but the actual story of what happens when the narrator is transported back to 1908 is too fanciful for belief - heck it stretches the boundaries of mystical realism. Of the time travel baseball books that I have read, this one really is the weakest. I think that is all I need to say about this book.
Greg Burton
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dear reader, please read this wonderful tribute to Americana (even though it was written by a Canadian). It is one of my three favorite books ever and I can't find anyone I know who has read it...

I read it for at least the fourth time in 2016, in honor of W. P. Kinsella's passing, as well as the fact that the Cubs played the Indians in the World Series - because that's what happens in this book, a decidedly superior work to Kinsella's more famous Shoeless Joe (a.k.a., Field of Dreams). Lyrical a
Tracy Towley
Aug 28, 2010 rated it liked it
The Iowa Baseball Confederacy was about baseball and took place in Iowa, both pros in my world. However, it also involved a lot of magic and science fiction bullshit, which is a definite con.

The story follows a man whose father has passed on a bunch of information about this supposed baseball league that existed and beat the 1908 Chicago Cubs (one of the best baseball teams in history). The problem is that no one but this man and his father believe it exists. The son ends up losing his wife and
Aaron Lozano
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Can anything capture the essence of life the way baseball does? Kinsella captures the essence of baseball here. There is no clock, extra innings can go on as long as needed (minus interference from Bud Selig). Timeless is what best describes baseball, or perhaps magical... I'll leave it up for debate as any good baseball aficionado would do. If you are into the stuff of legends, this book is for you. ...more
Trevor Seigler
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I first read "Shoeless Joe" (the basis for "Field of Dreams") probably close to five or six years ago and, when I saw this title listed as W.P. Kinsella's other major novel, wanted to find it. I only tracked down my copy at a used bookstore about a year ago, and never got around to reading it until just a couple of days ago (right on the eve of Halloween and on Halloween day, finishing it last night). Seems all kinds of appropriate to have read this over that holiday, in retrospect.

"The Iowa Bas
Daly Walsh
Jan 24, 2017 rated it liked it
As Jackie Robinson once said, “ The way I figured it, I was even with baseball and baseball with me. The game had done much for me, and I had done much for it.” This quote explains how the sport of baseball can change someone’s life. The Iowa Baseball Confederacy by W.P. Kinsella is a novel that illustrates the journey of life through the magic of time travel and the game of baseball itself. One man by the name of Gideon Clark is on a mission to solve baseball past passed down from his father. T ...more
Joe Santoro
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: soft_sf, sports
I was hoping for more baseball, and less Doctor Who from this book... I was a little disappointed. It reminded me of typical sci fi anthology piece that starts from a mostly realistic place, then end up in magically enhanced baseball players, mobile statues, and a time travelling Leonardo Da Vinci.

The main characters are all mostly sad people who you feel bad for and achieve no happiness but for brief moments. On the plus side, the writing is very good, and you really feel like you're there in t
Karna Converse
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Light-hearted read with subtle messages about obsessions one may have, the past we wish for, and the present we don't always appreciate.

Kinsella is a clever writer who weaves together lore and legend about Iowa, the Chicago Cubs, and Native Americans into a time travel story that's hard to put down.

Book club selection read with my local library.
Aug 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-my-library
This is the first book of Kinsella's work I have read. Being that I am a big baseball fan, and that "Field of Dreams" (based on Kinsella's novel "Shoeless Joe") is one of my favorite movies, it's kind of sad that it took me so long to get around to this.

For a rundown on the book, I use the review from Publishers Weekly via Amazon.Com:

On the day he met his true love, a carnival performer named Darling Maudie, Matthew Clarke was literally struck by lightning and magically imbued with the knowle
May 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
W.P. Kinsella has written a magical timeless tale of baseball and dreams realized, promise fulfilled and unfulfilled, love lost and found, tragedy, devotion, the power of innocence and myth to make and unmake the world, and the thread of humanity that unites them all.
The book opens with Gideon Clarke letting us know that he has inherited his father’s legacy: the absolute, unflinching certainty that a baseball game of mythic proportions was played in 1908 between the Chicago Cubs and the Iowa Ba
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
Lets see. Where to begin...

There are levels of suspending reality which separate some works of fiction from others. There is the level of Harry Potter, in which we have to believe that magic exists, there is the level of Chronicles of Narnia in which we have to believe in portals to other worlds, and there are pretty simple suspensions of reality like Forrest Gump, in which we have to believe that one "special" man could accomplish all of those incredible things.

Then there is the complete suspe
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, canlit, sport
Basically this is a baseball fantasy by the author who's Shoeless Joe became the movie, Field of Dreams (which I liked very much). Like Field of dreams, this deals with an obsession, both a father and, later on, his son, trying to find out proof of a fabled month long baseball game between the 1906 Chicago Cubs (remember Tinker to Evers to Chance) and an all-star team of minor leaguers from the Iowa Baseball Federation. However, as much as father and son believe in this game, there is no proof o ...more
Sep 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
Holy cats, where to start? The "I'm not albino, I'm just really pale and have shoulder-length white hair and blue eyes!" protagonist? The grating "My special divine knowledge is right but everyone thinks I'm crazy!" plot? The utter flatness of the female characters, all of whom are either sex objects or sexless mother figures? The actual mystical Indian whose "power vision" is of a game of baseball? I would like to believe that Gideon Clarke is a parody, but Kinsella is so damn earnest that ther ...more
Dave Glorioso
Apr 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this.
An open ended mystical story recommended by a friend because I enjoy baseball and American Indians.
The story is interesting. It becomes somewhat repetitive but the characters are fascinating.
The theme is one I can relate to: OCD that leads to habits that may remove you from more simple things. The simple things like family may get sacrificed.
Mystical time travel reveals the depth of a mans obsession with a little known baseball team. Is the obsession worth it. Did that team
Ron Wallace
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of the strange and surreal
Shelves: top-shelf
One of the strangest books I've ever had the pleasure of reading. It really gets out there pretty close to the bizarre range. Still it's a compelling and intriguing work with intelligent and unusual characters. More than one read for me already and I'll try it again I'm sure. It's a book that's simply fun to read. ...more
Shannon Newsome
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was ok
In Kinsella's own words, the book was "mystical, musical babble" with way too much mystical and babble for my taste. I am a huge baseball fan, and loved "Field of Dreams" but would not personally recommend this one. I'm pretty sure I don't even understand how the book ends (which is frustrating after laboring through), but that could just be a personal problem! ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the only novel I've read more than twice (not counting Potter but that's reading to children as well) and I simply enjoy its story. I recommend this more highly than Kinsella's better-known "Shoeless Joe" and put it on par with Roth's "The Great American Novel."

Brian Eshleman
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
My second experience added a fourth star. The work is reflective without being ponderous, poetic while still being pithy in places. It is about human characters as well as the types they symbolize.
It's baseball playoff time again (October) and the Washington Nationals are in the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. I used to live in Maryland so of course I'm rooting for the Nationals to go to the World Series. This time of year, I try to read something baseball related. A few years ago, I read Shoeless Joe, the excellent novel by Kinsella that was made into the movie "Field of Dreams." Iowa Baseball Confederacy is another Kinsella fantasy novel that uses magic realism to blend events and ...more
Richard Tolleson
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you read Shoeless Joe (later renamed Field of Dreams), you know that W.P. Kinsella doesn't strictly adhere to the rules of how things work in real life. In The Iowa Baseball Confederacy (from here on out referred to as TIBC), he once again plays with the idea that sometimes dreams can be brought to life, and that the past is not as solid and sure as we might think. We once again have a protagonist who is obsessed with an aspect of baseball (don't worry, he isn't building a field), but this ti ...more
Kev Willoughby
Meh. I initially thought I was reading a baseball story from the author who also wrote the book from which the movie "Field of Dreams" was produced. Then it turned into a story about a crazy father and son who chase make-believe stories a la Ben Gates in "National Treasure." And later, as if the book was not already random enough, out of nowhere, it becomes a time travel book, delivering the protagonist straight from his previous life in 1978 into the summer of 1908 in Iowa. There's a subplot wi ...more
Deb Montague
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the first half of the book immensely. It pulls one in as you wonder exactly how will the narrator unravel the mystery of the Iowa Baseball Confederacy.
But when the game drags on, the plot drags. It took too long to figure out the mystery and for the narrator to come to the realization of what he had to do, and the decisions he had to make. I think the magical narrative gets murky and drags the book down with it.
The absolute best part of the book is the discussion, beginning on page 2
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, fiction
This is my second book by W.P. Kinsella. He was a gifted writer with a fertile imagination and a life-long love of baseball. Truly a writer after my own heart! He recently died (9/16/16) at age 81, and he will be missed.
Kinsella is best known for his book "Shoeless Joe", which was turned into the immensely popular movie "Field of Dreams". "The Iowa Baseball Confederacy" is also a kind of wild fantasy centered on baseball and love of the game. I won't summarize the story - the jacket synopsis doe
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William Patrick Kinsella, OC, OBC was a Canadian novelist and short story writer. His work has often concerned baseball and Canada's First Nations and other Canadian issues.

William Patrick Kinsella was born to John Matthew Kinsella and Olive Kinsella in Edmonton, Alberta. Kinsella was raised until he was 10 years-old at a homestead near Darwell, Alberta, 60 km west of the city, home-schooled by hi

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