The path to adulthood charted here is frank, circuitous, and touched with regret, especially in scenes of strained romance, as Crane the author sometimes laments the feelings that Crane the young man let languish unspoken. Still, Crane’s rendering of those long-gone days is often high-spirited, charged with a young person’s sense of promise when seizing a place in the world. Readers will be treated to insights about baseball, basketball, and golf (“Golf is for men whose hands don’t get dirty when they work, a game that meshes with the rest of their life, an extension of who they are”), plus memories of hitchhiking, freight hopping, and touring Europe guided by a copy of The Sun Also Rises.
The most moving passages often come in the form of letters written by Crane, his parents, and his sometime girlfriend, Ann, who in 1961 declared, “I want to just swallow up the world, take all its punches and abuse, eat up its beauty.” What this memoir might lack in a strong narrative throughline, it more than makes up for in endless delightful vignettes as Crane struggles through the hard times and finds his own joy.
Takeaway: This richly realized memoir of sports as a path to success will hit a homer with readers interested in baseball and mid-20th-century coming-of-age stories.
Great for fans of Harvey Frommer’s Growing Up Baseball: An Oral History, David Lipsky’s Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-