Journeyman relief pitcher Jonathan “Ditch” Klein was all set to be a replacement player during the 1995 baseball strike...until the strike ended. Offered a contract in the minor leagues, on the same Upstate ballpark he once found success in high school, Ditch has one last chance to prove his worth. But to whom? A manager with an axe to grind, a father second-guessing his pitching decisions, a local sportswriter hailing him as a hometown hero, a decade older than his teammates and trying to resurrect an injury-ridden career...Ditch thinks he may have a possible back-up plan: become a sportswriter himself. The only question is whether he is a pitcher who aspires to be a writer, or the other way around...
I was almost certain I was reading a Raymond Carver short story I had never read before. Apple (like Carver) is a writer of characters. He paints portraits with well chosen words. He understands his characters. Like many of the dirty realist writers of the 70s, Apple writes about small town life, the lower-middle class, the lost or conflicted, but in Approaching Twi-Night there is always a glimmer of hope.
Baseball fans will especially appreciate this gritty story of minor league pitcher Jonathan (Ditch) Klein, a complex soul who is long overdue for some good news. This is definitely not formula fiction, but an inside look behind the scenes of a team, and a glimpse into the mind of a man torn between his two talents … baseball and writing.
A very good and fast paced read, on Class A Baseball, about the life, the traveling, the trials, the camaraderie, the pranks, the games of the players...The book hits home the atmosphere of small town ball, the locals, and best of all, the sights, the sounds and smells of the ballparks.
As a former player and coach I loved the back and forth banter between players throughout the story... It's a fun read for any baseball fan.
While the allure of baseball has been explored in a variety of books, not least Don DeLillo's Underworld and Chad Harding's The Art of Fielding, Approaching Twi-Night distinguishes itself by sticking to the minor leagues. This is baseball as personal quest, without an emphasis on glamour or personal wealth.
Apple's writing is at its best in the extended play-by-play descriptions of individual games (sportswriting, like middle relief, is an often undervalued skill), including the culminating double-header referenced in the title, in which he effectively conveys not only the mechanics of play, but also the psychology of pitching..An overall solid effort; readers will find that it's worth sticking around for the last pitch.
It's been some time since I sat and watched a baseball game, and longer still since I played, but despite that, the story of this pitcher and his teammates totally drew me in; it was just so compelling and real...
Approaching Twi-Night is literary fiction at its best...Apple is an elegant and understated writer, and Approaching Twi-Night isn't just a fine literary baseball novel, it's a lyrically rich novel about life, work, and family by a writer in command of his craft
M Thomas Apple, author of "Approaching Twi-Night, was recently interviewed by Upstate New York regional newspaper The Adirondack Journal. A native of the Adirondacks, Apple commented on the journey that took him far away from home, to Japan, before he found time to complete a novel almost two decades in the making. "Sports show us who we are as people...It's like holding up a mirror to society." (read more here: http://bit.ly/ADK-MTA)
Approaching Twi-Night is now available in two formats via Amazon.com: paperback and ebook. The release was timed to roughly coincide with the start of the 2015 Major League Baseball Spring Training season, exactly 20 years since the end of the MLB Players' Union strike which cancelled the 1994 World Series. The story itself is set in 1995, with a protagonist who would have been a "replacement player" but finds himself instead relegated to short-season Class A in the Mid-Atlantic region.