The Eclectic Quill

March 4, 2009

Mudville, America’s New Sports Classic

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kelly @ 2:23 pm

 

Mudville, by Kurtis Scaletta from Amazon.com

Well my brother, Kurtis, has gotten his first novel published and it’s officially on the shelves now. He’s doing book signings and everything. He mentioned to me that he might be published, but more people probably read me (via the blog) than him so he was happy that I told him I wanted to review the book for it before I’d even read it. He asked what I’d do if it was bad. I told him I didn’t think he ad to worry about that, and fortunately, he didn’t.

The dedication of the book is “For Ken and Kelly, with whom I learned the heights of friendship and rivalry known only among brothers.” So let’s just say there was something differently about going into reading the new novel by Kurtis Scaletta. It’s flattering to have a book dedicated to you, it’s special to have a book this good dedicated to you, even if you do have to share it with your other brother.

There are two kinds of books written for young adults, those that you like reading when you are a young adult and those that bring you back to your days when you were a junior high kid, playing baseball by the train tracks and getting mad crushes and having the kind of simple and complicated friendships you have as a kid. Mudville is the latter, and joins the ranks of stories like King’s The Body as one of those rare books that are just as enjoyable and enterable whether you are 13 or 42.

Kurtis’ love of baseball and story telling are splendidly woven together in his first published novel. Moundsville and Sinister Bend had their last game end in a rain delay that lasted 22 years. Pranksters now keep covering up the “o” the “n” and the “s” on the “Welcome to Moundsville sign though, so it reads “Welcome to Mudville”. But it finally stopps raining and Roy, who passionately loves baseball, has to piece together a baseball team to finish the rematch, which involves teaching a bunch of kids how to play, all while trying to put together a relationship with, Sturgis, his foster brother, deal with a crush, and endure his father’s cooking.

The story itself is engrossing and once you start turning the pages you’ll have trouble setting it down, so don’t start late at night. Classic novels take more than a good story though, and I don’t want to give it away so I’ll let Kurtis do that. While the story is thoroughly entertaining though, it’s not the best part of the book.

A good novel brings you into the story, but the classics bring you into the protagonist and Kurtis does that in an superbly earthy fashion. Too many protagonists are either too perfect or too “gritty.” Roy’s issues are normal and Roy is normal. As a result he is identifiable. It’s easy to be Roy, not just cheer for him.

I also appreciate the way the book handles the larger issues in life. It broken homess, alcoholism, death, disease and prison, but all with a respectable distance. Roy doesn’t live in a perfect world but this is not the type of the book that tries to score points for being “edgy.” It handles adult issues from a young adult’s perspective and strikes the perfect balance. it’s tone is not “Disney” and it’s not “dark,” it’s normal, and that’s a real strength of the book. It’s the book for 98% of us whose lives are neither perfect nor fatally flawed.

I highly recommend it and not just because my brother wrote it, but because it’s worth reading and a couple of years later, re-reading. For those of you who have kids in their early teens. it would be a great book for you both to read. It might give you something to talk about.

From a different perspective it’s interesting reading a book written by someone you know well, especially a brother. Most people reading it wouldn’t know for instance that Roy is Kurtis’ middle name, that he loves chili dogs, that Tori Hunter is his favorite baseball player, his Dad’s love of whipped cream and creative cooking, or that he’s the author of the website, animalsthatarenotrodents.com. There were times I had to laugh out loud on a personal level because there were things of Roy that were borrowed from the author.

Here’s the link to the Amazon again.
Mudville, by Kurtis Scaletta from Amazon.com

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