Oct 012013

weddle-countryhardballBooklist: Roy Alison, the linchpin in this novel-in-stories set in the Louisiana-Arkansas border area, has a dreadful legacy to overcome. At 16, he was high on drugs when he caused the car accident that killed his parents, starting him on a decade-long downward spiral of life in institutions, punctuated by violence in which people sometimes died. Now back home and living with his grandmother, Alison wants to be a better person. But events, generally motivated by the region’s dreadful economy, are conspiring against him. Trying to counter the increase in drugs and violence, Deputy Dennis McWilliams, once a promising pitcher coached by Alison’s father, has his own reasons for talking turkey and offering Alison another road. As the title suggests, baseball is an overarching subject here, as well as a possible means out of the area, and McWilliams’ explanation of his pitching strategy to a teenage girl is a highlight. These skillfully wrought interconnected stories form a debut novel that is relentless in describing the lives of people who are captives not only of their environment but also of their own histories.