Title: The Southpaw
Author: Mark Harris
Genre: Sports Fiction
So, in preparation for my next project, I have been reading more sports fiction. I’ve made my way through The Natural and Shoeless Joe. Mark Harris’ classic The Southpaw and its more famous sequel Bang the Drum Slowly, are among the most beloved and critically acclaimed baseball novels ever written.
I had high expectations for this book given its reputation so I was slightly disappointed when I reached the end. The Southpaw does not have a linear plot. It simply tells the story Henry Wiggins’ rise to fame as a left-handed pitcher for the fictional New York Mammoths. The interesting aspect of this book is the prose. Harris writes in Wiggins vernacular which can be quite jarring at the beginning of the story, but after reading a few chapters, I got used to the misspelled words and awkward language. It helped build atmosphere and develop Wiggins’ character.
As I said before, The Southpaw doesn’t really have a plot. It simply takes us through Wiggins’ early years on the New Mammoths and explores both his personal and professional relationships. Wiggins really starts to develop as a character towards the end of the novel when the Mammoths make it to the playoffs. He has to decide if baseball is more important to him than his personal relationships.
I feel like most of the book was a set up for the sequel Bang the Drum Slowly. It’s fantastic when giving insight into the world of baseball, but lacking in its depiction of women. The women in this novel were given little to do and when they do have page time, they are insufferable. Hopefully that improves in the sequel.
The Southpaw is a book best enjoyed in small increments. The book took me a long time to read because I finished it at my own pace. It is not a book you have to rush through. In fact, you can even read another book at the same time. I’ve heard Bang the Drum Slowly is a much better book. I plan on reading that soon and posting my review.