Friday, May 29, 2015

A Nice Little Place on the North Side

For this month's Blogging for Books read, I was sent George Will's A Nice Little Place on the North Side.  The book is all about Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cub's beloved ballpark.  As a baseball fan myself, I learned a lot from Will's stories and legends of the past 100 years of Wrigley history and was very impressed with Will's knowledge.  However, there were a couple aspects of the book that just didn't do it for me: the incessant metaphors and the unclear audience.

This book had more references and metaphors than anything I've ever read in my life.  Yes, Will eventually connected most of them to Wrigley, but it took a few pages.  There were an entire two pages comparing Wrigley Field to Miss Havisham as well as a half-page excerpt from Great Expectations.  Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby made an appearance with another excerpt and some commentary as well as many definitions from The Oxford English Dictionary.

I feel like the best example of this book-A.D.D. is Will's first sentence after inserting a lengthy poem about three turn-of-the-century Chicago Cubs.  "The poem was written by a reporter with a presidential name, Franklin Pierce Adams, whose editor needed something to fill space."
      A. This is a history book, not a novel, why do I care that he has a presidential name?
      B. Who is the one really trying to fill space here?

I chose this book to learn more about the Cubs and baseball.  In my parents' home, we actually have seats from Wrigley, taken from the field when they replaced the seating in the 1980s.  We've also had two cats named after Cubbies greats: Ernie (Banks) and Fergie (Jenkins).
Ernie sitting in our Wrigley Field seats /// Fergie and his brother Stan Musial (yes, real Fergie even signed it)

The reason I mention these things is to note that I know a bit about baseball and the Cubs.  While reading Will's book, I just honestly don't know for what audience it was written.  He goes so in depth with much of the history, but then he spends a whole page telling me who Ernie Banks is and how he is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  In my opinion, if you know nothing about Wrigley or the Cubs and need to learn everything there is to know in one book, then this one is for you.  However, for new baseball fans looking for an introduction to Cubbies' history, I think this book would be too much too fast.  Lastly, for fairly-educated fans like me, I felt that a lot of space was taken up with information most fans would already know.

So, yes, I learned a lot from this book, but I also found myself rolling my eyes on multiple occasions, trying to figure out how Will was possibly going to connect Wrigley's history to Shakespeare's Henry IV or Thomas Jefferson making his own beer at Monticello.  Will is incredibly knowledgeable about Wrigley Field, and okay, I do understand the Great Expectations reference.  Now a few days removed from finishing the book, I would read it again to pick up some of the details I missed, but knowing that it isn't 100% baseball would be a good warning for any future reader.

Venus Trapped in Mars


BLovedBoston said...

I think it's really interesting that it just wasn't full of baseball facts/history, but that the author tried to tie it back to things that even if you weren't a baseball fan could relate to! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

Jen said...

This sounds like a really cool book! I may have to check it out. :)

Kate at Green Fashionista said...

This sounds like my kinda book! Happy Friday gurlie <3

Julie said...

Boo to the Cubs...go Cardinals! ;)

Pink and Green Mom said...

I'm still reading this one. I've had it for awhile now...oops. The author is obsessed with commas. I just want to tell him it's okay to make two sentences sometimes. ;)

Kerry @ Till Then Smile Often said...

I am not sure I could get into a book that is 100% of baseball but it is fun to read some fun facts about your favorite team.

Emelia at Dream Big & Buy the Shoes said...

How cool that you have seats from Wrigley! I went to a game a few years ago when we visited Chicago and absolutely loved the atmosphere. My great grandmother was a huge Cubs fan so it was really nice to go see them in action!

Patty said...

How awesome that you actually have the seats!!!!

Megan @ Chicago Girl said...

I really want to read this to see what I can learn about my Cubbies. Thanks for sharing!

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