Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

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Ray Kinsella is sitting quietly on the back porch of his Iowa farm one evening when he hears the ghostly voice of a baseball announcer who says to him, "If you build it, he will come." Needing no further explanation, Kinsella immediately sees in his mind's eye a baseball field that he is being asked to create in the middle of a corn field. The voice will speak only two other things to Ray: "Ease his pain" and "Go the distance," and yet the dreaming, idealistic man knows just what he is supposed to do. He knows that digging up the corn field in the back of his house will inspire the return of baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson, a man whose reputation was forever tarnished by the scandalous 1919 World Series. So opens the award-winning novel by W.P. Kinsella which was the inspiration for the incredibly popular film Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner.

W.P. Kinsella has been called a great writer of baseball novels but this title transcends that description. Kinsella doesn't merely treat baseball as a subject in and of itself; instead, he uses it as a metaphor to discuss larger issues such as innocence, belief, and perhaps above all of these things, America. Shoeless Joe is a parable about one of the most fundamental American ideals: beginning anew.

By plowing up a large section of his farmland, Ray Kinsella is both building and rebuilding, creating what has never been as well as re-creating in a sense what had come before. The land had been a place where past sins could be expunged and a new vision realized. It is exactly this sort of renewal that Kinsella's quixotic creation brings about. Most importantly, this is a story about renewal and redress of trauma and sins of the past.

Shoeless Joe is #47 on the Sports Illustrated Greatest 100 Sports books.

Canadian author W.P. Kinsella was born in 1935 on a farm in Northern Alberta and did not receive his B.A. in creative writing until he was thirty-nine. Before that, Kinsella held a series of odd jobs including working as a taxi driver, selling insurance, and managing a restaurant. While he began writing short fiction at seventeen, Kinsella did not see publication until 1979 with his work Dance Me Outside. He became a sensation in 1982 with Shoeless Joe, a novel about an Iowa man who digs up part of his cornfield in order to build a baseball field. This novel was an elaboration of his short story, "Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa," which won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship and was made into the popular film Field of Dreams in 1989.

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About W. P. Kinsella

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William Patrick Kinsella was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Kinsella always though of himself as a writer, although he wrote more than 50 stories before getting published. Kinsella grew up loving the game of baseball. He wrote his first baseball story, a murder mystery called Diamond Doom, when he was in the eight grade. Kinsella's first collection of baseball stories, Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa, was published in 1980. In 1982, Kinsella expanded the stories into the award-winning novel Shoeless Joe, in which an Iowa corn farmer builds a baseball diamond in his fields after he hears voices. When he does, the ghosts of former baseball greats including Chicago Black Sox Shoeless Joe Jackson, come to play on the field. Shoeless Joe was eventually adapted and produced as the 1989 Hollywood movie Field of Dreams, featuring Kevin Costner and Ray Liotta. Other novels written by Kinsella include The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, The Further Adventures of Slugger McBatt, The Alligator Report, and The Miss Hobbema Pageant. Educated at the University of Victoria and the University of Iowa, Kinsella is a professor at the University of Calgary.
Published January 9, 2014 by RosettaBooks. 276 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Young Adult, Literature & Fiction, Sports & Outdoors, Action & Adventure. Fiction

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Young, struggling Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella hears a disembodied order to build, among his corn, a baseball field in which the dead and ghostly can redeem themselves--and, though too poor to meet his mortgage payments, Ray is deeply in love with the nectarous myth of baseball: he builds the field.

Apr 12 1982 | Read Full Review of Shoeless Joe

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Kinsella, best known for The Iowa Baseball Confederacy (1986), here offers his third collection, originally published in 1980 in Canada: a grab-bag of old stories and oddities, most notable for the piece out of which grew a novel and then the movie Field of Dreams.

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Salinger and Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham — who played just one half-inning in the major leagues — back to his magical field.

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