A novel-length baseball fable that details the adventures of an Iowa farmer named Ray Kinsella who builds a baseball diamond in his cornfield in the hope of bringing disgraced baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson back to life, Shoeless Joe is based on the title story from Kinsella’s 1980 story collection Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa and is the author’s first novel. If some critics accuse the book of sentimentality, it is because Shoeless Joe has none of the elements—sex, violence, and obscenity—that have become so commonplace in contemporary literature and popular culture. Instead, to paraphrase Kinsella, the book is intended to make an affirmative statement about life.
The book begins as Ray sits out on the veranda of his farm home in eastern Iowa and hears the voice of a baseball announcer say, “If you build it, he will come.” Ray immediately has a vision of the ballpark that he is being asked to conceive and sets out to realize it. Ray completes the park, and Shoeless Joe Jackson, the Chicago White Sox (later nicknamed the Black Sox) star player who was banned from baseball when it was revealed that his team threw the 1919 World Series, appears to Ray. They talk, and, soon after, Jackson brings back other ghost players.
As the story continues, Ray hears the voice of the baseball announcer again. This time the voice says, “Ease his pain,” and Ray somehow understands that he must kidnap...
(The entire section is 433 words.)