Forty Years, Forty Posts #7

We throw out cobs of corn for the squirrels. By the miracle of nature, we now have corn plants popping up around the yard. Most of them are mowed before they get very tall, though I have half a mind to let the whole yard turn into a corn field and then put down a tiny, squirrel-sized baseball diamond*: Yard of Dreams, I’ll call it. A tribute to Field of Dreams.

I first saw that movie in the spring of 1991. It instantly became one of my favorite movies. It helped to know that Darth Vader in that movie was really J.D. Salinger, one of my favorite writers. You see, in the book on which that movie is based, “Ray” Kinsella (the author’s name is W.P. Kinsella) takes J.D. Salinger to a Red Sox game, which apparently W.P. really did. In the movie they have a fictional writer, played by James Earl Jones, whom Kevin Costner (as Ray) takes to a Sox game.

While I think Mark Harris is a bigger influence on Mudville than Kinsella, I think it’s inevitable that my magic realism meets baseball novel will be reviewed by somebody as “Kinsella for Kids.” I hope someone says that, anyway. It’s a great compliment, and who could pass up on such an alliterative and tidy summation? Kinsella is a fine writer and an interesting guy. I happened to hear him speak once… actually, just before seeing Field of Dreams. He was there, too.

So W.P. Kinsella got to see a Red Sox game with J.D. Salinger? I got to see Field of Dreams with W.P. Kinsella. Maybe one day I’ll take the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson to see the movie version of Mudville and the whole thing will come full circle.

When: 1991
Where: Writers Conference, University of North Dakota

* The following year I attended the children’s writer’s conference at UND and took a workshop with Avi, who has written about baseball-playing squirrels.

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