Mark Harris Joseph Epstein - Essay

Joseph Epstein

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[It Looked Like For Ever] is a very likeable book, and to damn it with a little faint praise, I should say that it rather amused me but not violently. Part of the problem is that it goes on too long, allowing Mr. Harris to repeat jokes and stretch out bits that were perhaps best deleted to begin with. (p. 102)

It Looked Like For Ever is about the sadness of growing older in a game for younger men—of being, in effect, struck out by Nature. Henry Wiggen has reached forty, retirement age—actually well past it—for most baseball players, and his problem is that he would like to play out one last season so that his youngest daughter can see him play. But such plot as there is here is scarcely more than an excuse for Mr. Harris to mock the clichés of baseball and to deflate the overblown pieties of a game that, since the infusions of large sums of money made available by television fees, in most respects has become a business like many another. Mark Harris truly knows his subject, and knows what is funny about it and what is poignant about it. The difficulty with his book is that in it the most heavy-handed jokes commingle too easily with the most subtle. The effect is rather as if a solid three-hundred hitter were picked off every third time he got on base—the man would have to be sent down, as one sets down It Looked Like For Ever, with regret. (p. 103)

Joseph Epstein, "Too Much Even of Kreplach," in The Hudson Review (copyright © 1980 by The Hudson Review, Inc.; reprinted by permission), Vol. XXXIII, No. 1, Spring, 1980, pp. 97-110.∗