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Past book reviews & discussions > October book discussion - "Shoeless Joe"

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message 1: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12694 comments Mod
This will be the discussion thread for our fictiol book for October, "Shoeless Joe" by W.P. Kinsella. Below is the question to get the discussion started, but feel free to contribute any thoughts about the book you wish to share - the discussion is by no means limited to this question.

Many believe "Shoeless Joe" is more about dreaming than about baseball. Or perhaps more about courage than either dreams or baseball. What is your view?


message 2: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments I'm putting down my impressions of the book and then I'l try to answer the question.
The DH was in existence when he wrote the book.

If a starter didn't pitch the whole game, it was a sign of weakness.

It was interesting to have Eddie Scissons in the book. He is an interesting and poignant character. The whole funeral scene with the Cubs uniform was great and very moving.On the other hand the brother Richard didn't add much to the story.

Ray tells Salinger that he brought him to the field to renew his life. Salinger admits that his dream to play for the Giants is what he wants more than anything.

As a lawyer, I wondered how Kinsella the writer could have used JD Salinger as a major character without violating privacy laws or other rights of celebrity unless Salinger consented.

JD and Ray at Fenway- "The year might be 1900 or 1920 or 1979, for all the field itself has changed. Here the sense of urgency that governs most lives is pushed to one side like junk mail shoved to the back of a desk."

"baseball is the most perfect of games, solid, true, pure, and precious as diamonds. If only life were that simple."

Did you notice the time of the game when Moonlight Graham played that one half inning? 1hr/55 minutes.

Was, as JD asks Ray, "are you doing some form of penance?" Is it because he drifted away from his dad?

Ray's epitaph-"he was a fan of the game".

The image of Doc carrying the umbrella every where " so I can chase away the women admirers" and he would chuckle. Doc's wish- to hold a bat and stare down a pitcher and wink at him to mess with his head.

JD and Ray meet Moonlight in 1955 and talk about the 54 World Series and the "catch"

Their purpose- to see if one inning can change the world(Doc Graham)

Young Archie is like a doll they conjure up to fulfill their dream that fantasy turns to truth.

Nick names in baseball are no loner in use because of big business and big money so no one wants to be known as Pee Wee.

And the best paragraph of all that I had framed and kept in my office

" I don't have to tell you that the one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has been erased like a blackboard, only to be erased and rebuilt again. But baseball has marked time while America has rolled by like a procession of steamrollers. It is the same game that Moonlight Graham played in 1905. It is a living part of history, like calico dresses, stone crockery, and threshing crews eating at outdoor tables. It continually reminds us of what once was, like an Indian head penny in a handful of coins."
My impressions. THE PLACE WHERE DREAMS COME TRUE

If I recall correctly, in the movie Field of dreams, the audience does not know until the end that the phrase "if you build it, he will come" refers to Ray's father. In the book it is clear very early(page 19 he tells Joe Jackson about a catcher who played class B ball). I found that the movie did a better job in capturing the mystery behind the voice and Ray's quest. We don't know in the movie until much latter and the impact was greater for me. ALSO, I was thoroughly disappointed that the best part of the movie is not in the book; namely the scene where Ray finally talks to his dad and asks him if he'd like to have a catch. That made the experience for me and the book failed to fully capture the essence of the bond of baseball between all of us and their fathers. Instead, all there is Ray telling his father, "I admire the way you catch".


message 3: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments To me the book is about all three things. The courage to fulfill your dreams and the bond that joins father and son forever through a love of baseball.


message 4: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12694 comments Mod
I do agree with the premise of the discussion question that the book is more about dreaming than the game itself. In fact, that is what I was thinking about during the whole book - in the back of my mind, I was wondering when Ray was going to wake up.

(Note - even though I had seen Field of Dreams many times, I put that out of my mind as best as I could and approached the book as if I didn't know any part of the story)

Because of this, that is why I did not share the same sense of disappointment as Harold did when there was no game of catch between Ray and his father. I enjoyed the book for the adventure and the dreaming, regardless of how that would play out. This book, to me, was an example of how the road to get to the destination can be much better than the actual arrival and ending.


message 5: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10907 comments Just a comment if I may on the above by Lance & Harold. The movie made me cry , the book frustrated me that it didn`t
Mike Linn
I read the book right after it came out, thinking it might make a decent movie. I was wrong, it made a wonderful movie


message 6: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments I saw a description of the book depicted as "magical realism". I'm not sure what that means , but it sounds like what Lance is describing. But if he intended it to be just a dream, it turned into a reality. The field is there, as is the farm house, and the people, they did and are coming.


message 7: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments Do you think the whole book may have been an ode to JD Salinger? To get him to write again?
"Ray tells Salinger that he brought him to the field to renew his life. Salinger admits that his dream to play for the Giants is what he wants more than anything."


message 8: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12694 comments Mod
That's possible - I had that thought during the entire Fenway Park scene. And as an aside - I LOVED it that Kinsella had baseball action in that scene, unlike the movie. Even better was that the Red Sox were playing the Twins, and he mentioned the best name a player has had in Twins history - Bombo Rivera!


message 9: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments Yes that was funny


message 10: by Brina (new)

Brina | 8164 comments Mod
I didn't enjoy Fenway park scene in book nearly as much as movie. I am still getting used to JD Salinger because I am also used to James Earl Jones as Terrance Mann. Richard is just there but interesting that his girl friend's name is Annie. Shows nature v nurture about twins. I was waiting the whole book for line "dad, how about a catch" that never showed up. Book still moving especially the passage Harold has in his office- I have as a refrigerator magnet. Still movie more special to me than book. Anyone else has visited Dyersville?


message 11: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Griffin | 2 comments To me, the book is more about baseball than dreams. It's about the history and the ghosts of players past. And keeping alive that history. I don't plan on ever seeing the movie. The book is good enough for me!


message 12: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12694 comments Mod
Brina's comment is exactly why I approached reading the book as if I had not seen the movie. Or, at least treat it as it's own story, not one that's been made into a movie. There was another section of the book - pretty significant in my opinion as well - that wasn't covered in the movie and that was the adventure to and from Chisholm when we learn about Moonlight Graham. (BTW - Chisholm is a real town).

That whole chapter when Ray and Sallinger were talking with Moonlight is another example of how I felt the book illustrates the notion that the adventure to get to your destination can be better than its conclusion.


message 13: by Brina (new)

Brina | 8164 comments Mod
Actually they did go to Chisholm in the movie but didn't cover the scene in as much depth.


message 14: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12694 comments Mod
I know they didn't go to Metropolitan Stadium in the movie like they do in the book. Where I spent a good chunk of my chilhood and teenage years!

Which was where I had many dreams - like Ray is having as well., or at least it felt like that. He was living his dream and to get a little deeper, he might have even been exposing some long kept fears and/or secrets.

I saw another discussion question asking why Kinsella chose J.D. Sallinger as the author who Ray finds instead of someone like Stephen King, a well known Red Sox fan. Since he was as famous for being a recluse as much as a author, that is where I thought the connection to Salinger was...bring out long hidden aspects after hiding them so long.


message 15: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10907 comments In an interview, Kinsella said that the working title of the book, was "The kidnapping of JD Sallinger ", who Kinsella greatly admired . After the books named was changed & it was published, Sallinger`s lawyers wrote Kinsella & were outraged by the portrayal. They swore to sue if it was ever used in the movie. Enter the Terrance Mann character.
Mike Linn
I just looked it up & there is much written on Google & Wikipedia


message 16: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments Stephanie wrote: "To me, the book is more about baseball than dreams. It's about the history and the ghosts of players past. And keeping alive that history. I don't plan on ever seeing the movie. The book is good en..."
Brina, you are missing a truly magical film(despite the miscasting of Ray Liotta as Joe Jackson). Burt Lancaster's performance as Doc Graham, although short in duration, was immensely moving. Do yourself a favor and watch it. It will remain with you forever in my opinion. And the last scene is THE most emotional scene of any movie I've ever been to.


message 17: by Brina (new)

Brina | 8164 comments Mod
Me? I know the script by heart. I have seen the film I don't know how many times and watch it every off season. Have even been to Dyersville, Iowa and had a shirt from there for years.


message 18: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments Lance wrote: "Brina's comment is exactly why I approached reading the book as if I had not seen the movie. Or, at least treat it as it's own story, not one that's been made into a movie. There was another sectio..."
A movie has just so much time. It was already a long film. I though they did a good job in the movie of depicting Doc Graham with the narrator telling us about him and the scene where he walks down the street with his umbrella, and Ray's interview of him at the office. But yes, the time in Chisolm is a wonderful piece of writing that sets up the great "crossing of the lines" scene later on.


message 19: by Brina (new)

Brina | 8164 comments Mod
Harold I cry at the last scene every time. It remains in my top 3 all time emotional movie scenes.


message 20: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments Michael wrote: "In an interview, Kinsella said that the working title of the book, was "The kidnapping of JD Sallinger ", who Kinsella greatly admired . After the books named was changed & it was published, Sallin..."
That's what I posted in my impressions of the movie. When I wrote my book, I initially had George F Will as the commissioner. I had researched the legal issues and knew I would need his permission if he had a character role. Of course, I got back an email from a staffer saying he is too busy to answer so many requests. So, out he went, as did Chase Utley.
But I am surprised there wasn't a cease and desist order against the book as well.
As for Lance's reference to hidden secrets, I'm not sure what he means. Do you mean Ray's guilt over leaving home and having broken his relationship with his father or Sallinger's regrets over his career path?


message 21: by Brina (new)

Brina | 8164 comments Mod
Possibly. In the film version Johnny is already an old man when Ray is born. He chose a different team to cheer for and went to Stanford as far away as possible from home for school. Then ended up in Iowa just because. Never got to see his father before he passed. Never played catch as a kid. Ray tells Joe "It was you" and Joe answers "No, it was you" and scene pans to Johnny in catcher's gear. Is that the hidden magic or is it what we never discover that lays beyond the door in the cornfields.


message 22: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments I thought that referred to the voice, "if you build it he will come". Ray saying it was Joe's soul but rather it was his father's . I don't know the answer


message 23: by Brina (new)

Brina | 8164 comments Mod
Are we supposed to?


message 24: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments good point


message 25: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12694 comments Mod
Just saw your question Harold about the hidden secrets - yes to both of them you mentioned...secrest for both Ray and JD


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Brina wrote: "I didn't enjoy Fenway park scene in book nearly as much as movie. I am still getting used to JD Salinger because I am also used to James Earl Jones as Terrance Mann. Richard is just there but inter..."

In the summer of 1999, my kids were 11, 8 and 3 and were big baseball fans and had watched Field of Dreams, Rookie of the Year and Sandlot a billion times. We took a family vacation to the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore and made a detour to Dyersville on the way home.

Back then most of the field was still privately owned but they were having trouble with some big-city investors who were buying up the surrounding land--I've heard it is different now.

But it was free at the time. They had a donation box and a small gift shop. There was a constantly-running batting practice going on on the field. People would stop by, play catch, take turns batting and shagging flies.

We played on the field, got some great pictures in front of the house and walking out of the corn and took BP. It was a great experience, especially since the kids were still at a good age to appreciate it.


message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree with Harold--I love the Burt Lancaster portrayal of Moonlight Graham (in my mind that is his best work, although rolling in the surf with Deborah Kerr wasn't bad either).

I love the "stepping over the line" part as I had my own stepping over the line episode years ago (and have recurring dreams about still playing baseball).

I think the genius of Kinsella is that he captured feelings that have been common experiences for millions of Americans (teenage angst/conflicts with parents, the Little League dad syndrome, unfulfilled dreams, having a catch with your dad, the ability of baseball to cement relationships, nostalgia for simpler times . . .) rolled them all into one story and put to words those feelings.


message 28: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments Amen Doug


message 29: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10907 comments Some months back I saw a Bob Costas interview with Kevin Costner on THE field, with people in the background having catches. I don`t remember the name of the actor who played his father in the movie, but they had a catch too. It must have been the 25th anniversary of the film.
Mike Linn
The stepping over the line was the promo ad for the movie


message 30: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments Yes I saw it. It was well done


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

The previous owners of the field in Dyersville kept very much to the spirit of the movie. It was just a nice place to visit and play with your kids. I'm not sure if the newer owners kept it like that or commercialized it more.


message 32: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12694 comments Mod
Per IMDb, the actor who played Ray's father was Dwier Brown


message 33: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10907 comments Thanks, just couldn`t think of it, but more importantly, he still throws like a girl. ( I mean a non athletic one)
Mike Linn


message 34: by Mike (new)

Mike Kennedy (mpkennedy3) | 6 comments I think it was more about dreaming than baseball. I have to say the book pales in comparison to the movie. I will admit that I have watched the movie numerous times and biased towards it. I didn't feel the brother, Richard, added to the story, and taking out the "have a catch" and Doc Gram scene in Chisholm took away from the story.

I have been to Dyersville a few times. The last time about four years ago. Whole family got a t-shirts. The infield was rough as it had gray gravel instead of dirt, but it still was great. They don't allow games or be on there anymore. I was able to walk into the outfield and play catch with my daughter. It was July, so the corn was not at full height, but it was a great experience. I heard the field was purchased a few years back and they were looking to build a big complex to hold tournaments on the land. Not sure whatever came of it.


message 35: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments I agree with your comments Mike about the movie capturing the essence of the theme better than the book


message 36: by Michael Linn (last edited Oct 08, 2016 02:57AM) (new)

Michael Linn | 10907 comments My experience in theater & the business in general, is that a screenwriter hopes to capture not just the essence but what they perceive the theater going public wants. But the writer pours his guts out on the printed page long before a movie is even considered & what that original printed page shows before the hatchet boys get a hold of it, is just as powerful as the finished product. WP Kinsella spent years polishing his most intimate thoughts on what in time became a treasured movie, but I find that when you go back after the movie is made & take a closer look at the printed word, that essence in general is all over each page. I `ve read lots of bestsellers before they came to the screen. The seed is planted long before you see the tree. Just saying. No book goes directly to the screen without transference & much rewriting & polishing
Mike Linn He didn`t write it for the movie it would become, he wrote it for the book it was


message 37: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12694 comments Mod
General statement here, and this is because of the many passages that I believed Kinsella wrote beautifully, but I was much more impressed with the book than the movie. Sure, the catch scene wasn't in the book, but I didn't believe that was the focus of the book as I believe it turned out to be in the movie.

Usually a book is better than its movie adaptation. I think that is the case here as well. For the best example...it's one I mentioned before...the whole scene at Fenway Park was so much better in the book, bot in terms of baseball and in terms of the dialogue between the characters.

You know I love all of you here in this group, but if I am the lone wolf here, so be it...but the book was better than the movie for me. I just wish that I followed the usual pattern and read it before I saw the movie.


message 38: by Michael Linn (new)

Michael Linn | 10907 comments You are not a lone wolf, I`m in the small pack. I usually always read the book first & while they both have great things in there, it`s the movie that`s usually always remembered because most regular people haven`t read it. All they screenwriters did was take a gem & polished it until it blinded all that came after it was indeed built, it was just us that went the distance
Mike Linn


message 39: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments I think the other movie that equaled the written book was The Godfather. I think I like the movie better because of Burt Lancaster and James Earl Jones. I just love their presence.


message 40: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments Lance wrote: "General statement here, and this is because of the many passages that I believed Kinsella wrote beautifully, but I was much more impressed with the book than the movie. Sure, the catch scene wasn't..." SO, Lance do you think the focus of the book was not magically bringing the father and son together for one last opportunity for healing but rather something else?


message 41: by Lance (last edited Oct 08, 2016 01:43PM) (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12694 comments Mod
Like I mentioned earlier...I believed the focus was on dreams with many examples,not just the father and son. Everyone had those dreams, whether Ray, Salinger, Moonlight or even Richard. I guess the easiest way to explain my POV on this was that I was looking at the bigger picture instead of focusing on many individual moments to draw my conclusion. Even though I have talked about a few scenes, the overall conclusion for me was what I really liked.


message 42: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12694 comments Mod
Also, in previous discussions we have had here about the movie before we decided to read this book, I mentioned that the catch in the movie didn't hit me emotionally like it did for many others here. So that part not being in the book didn't hit me like it would others who did feel so emotional during that movie scene. Now if they ever have a book out based on "Rookie of the Year" and we get to the scene where Henry sees his mom's name inside the glove...then the tears will flow.


message 43: by Harold (new)

Harold Kasselman | 17732 comments Thanks lance. I see your POV now.


message 44: by Doubledf99.99 (new)

Doubledf99.99 | 1334 comments Lance wrote: "General statement here, and this is because of the many passages that I believed Kinsella wrote beautifully, but I was much more impressed with the book than the movie. Sure, the catch scene wasn't..."

I loved the book and only liked the movie.


message 45: by Brina (new)

Brina | 8164 comments Mod
Lance we were watching the end of Rookie of the Year last night and tears were flowing when I saw mom's name on the glove. Not sure how many more emotions I would get out of a book but it would have tons of magic. Then again if Cubs (knock on wood) win this year, the concept would be a bit dated.


message 46: by Lance (new)

Lance (sportsbookguy) | 12694 comments Mod
Brina wrote: "Lance we were watching the end of Rookie of the Year last night and tears were flowing when I saw mom's name on the glove. Not sure how many more emotions I would get out of a book but it would hav..."

That's one of my favorite baseball movies...I love the ones with kids. That one, Little Big League and of course The Sandlot.

And...back to the book...we haven't mentioned Ray's daughter Karin. She can see the players and she gets what's going on as only a child can. In both book and movie, I think she plays a very important role.


message 47: by Brina (new)

Brina | 8164 comments Mod
Yes she does. Daddy, what's a southpaw?? Precious. And then Archie having to make a life or death decision based on her life in the balance. Gets me every time. What I should be doing today instead of watching pointy ball is watching this movie again.


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

Lance wrote: "Brina wrote: "Lance we were watching the end of Rookie of the Year last night and tears were flowing when I saw mom's name on the glove. Not sure how many more emotions I would get out of a book bu..."

Good point, Lance. We've overlooked her so far.


message 49: by Ashley Marie (new)

Ashley Marie  | 1460 comments Started this last night and was in love by page 10. That's only as far as I got bc reality got in the way a bit, but holy crap is it good. Really looking forward to Eight Men Out: The Black Sox and the 1919 World Series now too.


message 50: by Brina (new)

Brina | 8164 comments Mod
Ashley glad you are loving it. Good luck tonight. I shouldn't take sides but I don't think John is up yet. Book more complex than movie and I love both for what they are.


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