W. P. Kinsella Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

What is the relationship between nostalgia and magic in W. P. Kinsella’s work?

Does Kinsella seem to have an optimistic or a pessimistic view of the world?

Kinsella often plays around with time and time travel. What does he accomplish by doing this?

Race is at the center of Kinsella’s work. How do you feel about his portrayal of Canadian Indians?

A North American Indian character in Kinsella’s The Iowa Baseball Confederacy says, “Baseball is the one single thing that the white man has done right.” How does this statement relate to Kinsella’s literary vision?

What are the unifying elements in Kinsella’s fiction between baseball and Canadian Indian culture?

Shoeless Joe is Kinsella’s best-known work, but it is by no means canonical. Why do you think Kinsella has not received the same sort of consideration as writers like Bernard Malamud and John Updike, who have also written about baseball?

W. P. Kinsella Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

W. P. Kinsella is best known for his novels, including Shoeless Joe (1982) and The Iowa Baseball Confederacy (1986), which combine baseball with fantasy. Shoeless Joe is the basis of the popular 1989 film Field of Dreams. Because of its use in the film, Kinsella’s line “If you build it, he will come” has become a catchphrase. Kinsella has also written poetry, plays, and the nonfiction A Series for the World (1992), about the 1992 World Series between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Atlanta Braves.

W. P. Kinsella Achievements

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

W. P. Kinsella received the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Canadian Authors Association Prize for Fiction, the Alberta Achievement Award for Excellence in Literature, the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor, and the Canadian Book Publishers’ Author-of-the-Year Award.

W. P. Kinsella Bibliography

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Aitken, Brian. “Baseball as Sacred Doorway in the Writing of W. P. Kinsella.” Aethlon 8 (Fall, 1990): 61-75. Aitken looks at the spiritual aspects of Kinsella’s baseball novels and two of his stories, “Frank Pierce, Iowa” and “K-Mart.” He concludes that Kinsella shows how North Americans can find as much spiritual fulfillment in sports as in formal religion.

Cameron, Elspeth. “Diamonds Are Forever.” Saturday Night 101 (August, 1986): 45-47. Cameron shows how most of Kinsella’s fiction centers on adolescent males who, unencumbered by women, pursue quests as if they were knights errant.

Horvath, Brooke K., and William J. Palmer. “Three On: An Interview with David Carkeet, Mark Harris, and W. P. Kinsella.” Modern Fiction Studies 33 (Spring, 1987): 183-194. Kinsella explains how he came to write about baseball and his attitude toward literary criticism.

Kinsella, W. P. “Interview.” Short Story, n.s. 1 (Fall, 1993): 81-88. Kinsella discusses baseball as the chess of sports and why it serves him so well in his fiction. Talks about the transformation of the book Shoeless Joe into the film Field of Dreams. Discusses those contemporary short-story writers he likes best, his own collections of short stories, and what he thinks the future of short fiction will be.

Kinsella, W. P. “W. P. Kinsella, the Super-Natural.” Interview by Sheldon Sunness. Sport 77 (July, 1986): 74. Kinsella discusses his fondness for baseball, his disdain for Canada’s native game of hockey, and his wish to be a major league baseball player in another life.

McGimpsey, David. Imagining Baseball: America’s Pastime and Popular Culture. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000. A solid chapter on Shoeless Joe, Field of Dreams, and The Iowa Baseball Confederacy. Rich source of reference to other writers’ work on Kinsella.

Murray, Don. The Fiction of W. P. Kinsella: Tall Tales in Various Voices. Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada: York Press, 1987. This brief but excellent study provides an overview of Kinsella’s fiction, placing emphasis on the short stories. Murray includes three interviews with Kinsella, a bibliography, and an index.

Murray, Don. “A Note on W. P. Kinsella’s Humor.” The International Fiction Review 14, no. 2 (1987): 98-100. Humor is the basic ingredient in Kinsella’s fiction, according to Murray. He argues that anarchy is justified and funny in Kinsella’s works.

Westbrook, Deeanne. Ground Rules: Baseball and Myth. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1966. An outstanding treatment of Shoeless Joe and The Iowa Baseball Confederacy against a background of the relationship of baseball fiction to myth.