M Christopher's Reviews > Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards

Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker
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's review
Nov 21, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: baseball
Read on November 21, 2011

I was really excited when I received this book as a gift this Christmas. It had been highly praised by the baseball writers on ESPN.com as a worth successor to a book I greatly enjoyed as a teenager: "The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book" by Brendan Boyd and Fred Harris. Indeed, shortly after Christmas, I flipped through it and it appeared to have a good deal in common with that book: short chapters headed by the reproduction of a baseball card and followed by the author's amusing reminiscences of the card and player plus some reflections from the author on his boyhood.

Then, I looked closer and read the first chapter or two. This was NOT "The Great American, etc.," not by a long shot. The author's memories of the players were almost all bitter and brittle and his memories of his own life even more so. I put the book away and determined to tackle it later.

Well, November 21st is about as later as you can get to read a book given at Christmas within a twelve-month. And as I sped through the book today (it is, mercifully, a quick read), all my fears were confirmed. The author had an unconventional and apparently miserable childhood. I would have flung the thing away in disgust at several points but I was determined to see it through, in hope of redemption at the end. The only redemption, as far as it goes, consists of Wilker's admission that he finally found a woman to put up with his whiney butt and that he and his somewhat estranged brother managed to enjoy the Red Sox championship parade together. O joy, O bliss, O rapture unhoped for.

Turns out that the reason the book got such high praise from the ESPN commentators is that Wilker lived in the same tiny Vermont town as Buster Olney for a brief period and Olney and his brother get about a paragraph in an early chapter.

Avoid like the plague.

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