Beth Custer and I rolled thru Noe Valley and stopped, momentarily — not sure stopped is the word, since we swarmed the bookstore more likes bees than not — and I walked away with two books, Octavio Paz poetry (but I bought in for the pictures, the inverse of when I buy the ocassional Playboy for the articles — I said this to the male clerk ) and a collection of Andre Dubus stories called “Finding a Girl in America” on David R. Godine, from 1999 — they were both remainders.
I have only gotten as far as reading this one paragraph, picked oracularly, at random:
He did not make love to Leslie the night before the game. All season, he had not made love to her on the night before he pitched. He did not believe, as some ballplayers did, that it hurt you the next day. It’s why the call it the box score anyway. Hap Thomas had said on the bus one night after going hitless; I left at least two base hits in that whorehouse last night. Like most ballplayers in the Evangeline League, Thomas had been finished for a long time: a thirty-six-year-old outfielder who had played three season — not consecutively – in Triple A ball, when he was in his twenties. Billy didn’t make love the night before a game because he still wasn’t used to night baseball; he still had the same ritual that he’d had in San Antonio, playing high school and American Legion ball: he drank a glass of buttermilk then went to bed, where for an hour or more he imagined tomorrow’s game, although it seemed the game already existed somewhere in the night beyond his window and was imagining him. When finally he slept, the game was still there with him, and in the morning he woke to it, remembered pitching somewhere between daydream and nightdream; and until time for the game, he felt like a shadow cast by the memory and the morning’s light, a shadow that extended from his pillow to the locker room, when he took off the clothes which had not felt like his all day and put on the uniform which in his mind he had been wearing since he went to bed the night before. In high school, his his classes interfered with those days of being a shadow. He felt that he was not so much going to classes as bumping into them on his way to the field. But in summer when he played American Legion ball, there was nothing to bump into, there was only the morning’s wait which wasn’t really waiting because waiting was watching time, watching it win usually, while on these mornings he joined time and flowed with it, so that sitting before the breakfast his mother cooked for him he felt that he was in motion toward the mound.
That’s from a story called “The Pitcher”, pp. 75-76 here, and I would say that in these 400 words Dubus is hitting .400, up there with Joe Jackson, Roberto Clemente and the other all time greats. Ring Lardner, you know me, Al. I didn’t know Andre Dubus but Brian Moore got to know him slightly — Andre playfully punched him in the gut — and I will I hope always recall running into Star Teachout in front of Dinkelspiel Hall on Stanford campus one spring afternoon and noticing the sign in the window saying that Andre Dubus had taken ill.
edit to add, two years later: Nick Taylor columnist for PAW wrote about Dock Ellis and I countered with some Sal Magli-ism:
Wow, I love this, Nick.
I’m just gonna say, check out Barbara Manning and SF Seals an indie rock band and their tribute to the pitcher here is a link:
Barbara played my concert series at Cubberley in 1995 and we made a cool poster that featured, not Dock Ellis but Sal Maglie, “the Barber”, not a Seal but an ex-NY Giant. Kinda weird but very Cooperstown.
By the way, there is a good Andre Dubus (senior) story about a baseball pitcher I wrote about once on my blog, Plastic Alto.
Never tried LSD but speaking of LDS I am listening care of library to “Book of Mormon” –how’s that for a curveball.
I also caught the Lincecum no-no this year, making up for skipping out of what became Nolan Ryan’s last no-hitter in Oakland, circa 1991.