An exceptional debut novel lovingly probes the values of faith, family, community, and America's favorite pastime, baseball -- from a captivating new voice in contemporary fiction.
Cooperstown, New York, in 1979 (the year Willie Mays was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame), is a close-knit community where gossip is sovereign and baseball is the great American religion. Seen through the eyes of Dr. Kerwin Chylak, a psychiatrist who has recently moved to town with his family, the citizens of Cooperstown are a wildly eclectic team of players that includes an alcohol-befuddled mayor determined to be more than a footnote to history; the town busybody who pitches missiles of miscommunication; a disillusioned ex-ball player turned warrior; and a sports writer who detests baseball. Little do these ordinary people know that they are about to be thrust into an extraordinary situation as the construction of a baseball theme park threatens their quaint way of life. Teetering on the cusp of a decade in which commercialism could swallow them whole, they are spurred to action -- with unexpected, poignant, often hilarious results.
Full of baseball legend and lore and featuring an unforgettable cast of unconventional characters, Cooperstown probes the hearts and minds of small-town America. It is a celebration of life in all its struggles, sorrows, and sudden slides into victory.
Cooperstown, N.Y., home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, is also home to folks whose lives have been shaped (sometimes to their detriment) by America's favorite pastime. As in any small town, there are those who love it and those who rail against the invisible chains that keep them there. Pilek's citizens include a psychiatrist at least as interested in medicating himself as helping any of his patients; a former high school baseball star who seems to have collapsed mentally; a sportswriter who hates baseball; and an eccentric, tippling mayor who will do just about anything to preserve his town's image. It's 1979, and though the local storefronts are slowly turning into souvenir shops, the town still retains its old magic but a proposed baseball theme park may change that. Pilek, US Weekly's book editor, gathers her characters together around the mystery of a missing letter, a device that can't quite meld such disparate, dense and interesting story lines, but she has a real feel for the rhythms of smalltown life, even as it's in the throes of change, and a fine hand with her characters and the game of baseball itself.