When I read this book I was not a baseball fan--didn't understand the allure. But after reading this WWII-set novel, I finally understood what it means to fans. A wonderful coming-of-age novel with dashes of the "Frankenstein" myth, Brittle Innings is a must for baseball fans (or not).
In 1943, at the height of World War II, the Highbridge Hellbenders of the the class-C Chattahoochee Valley League deep in Georgia acquire a 17-year-old shortstop from Oklahoma named Danny Boles. The Hellbenders snap him up because he's too young for the draft and preternaturally talented. In Highbridge, they make him the boarding-house roommate of an enormous first baseman with the awe-inspiring skill of blasting monster home runs out of the CVL's tumbledown ballparks. Known to his teammates as Jumbo Hank Clerval, this mysterious giant and the mute Danny Boles strike up an improbable friendship that culminates at the hot season's end in triumph and disappointment, not to mention a host of haunting discoveries in both the simmering South and the wind-swept Aleutian Islands. Hailed by critics as a contender for the Great American Novel laurel, Brittle Innings evokes a bygone era of worldwide conflict and homeland unity. It also convincingly links documented wartime history with the immemorial mythology of the superhero and the legendary status of baseball as the unchallenged American pastime. If you read it, you will not forget it.