Shoeless Joe Essay - Critical Context (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series)

W. P. Kinsella

Critical Context (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series)

William Kinsella’s career as a published author started when he was already in his forties, after a variety of other occupations. He wrote more than fifty short stories that were rejected by various editors. His first success was a book of stories about Indian life on and off a reservation. Shoeless Joe was his first novel, for which he received the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award in 1982. National acclaim came to the author in 1989 when the book was made into the movie Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, which received three Academy Award nominations.

Kinsella is a prolific writer. He has published more than two hundred short stories in various magazines. Based on his success with Shoeless Joe, he has written several other novels that combine baseball with imaginative fantasy. Critics have given generous praise to Kinsella’s fiction. For example, one reviewer in The New York Times Book Review commented that Kinsella “defines a world in which magic and reality combine to make us laugh and think about the perceptions that we take for granted.” He has also become a sought-after speaker at creative writing workshops. In an interview addressed to young writers, he said, “Fiction writing . . . consists of ability, imagination, passion and stamina. . . . I know it is a cliché but though inspiration is nice, ninety-eight percent of writing is accomplished by perspiration.”