I've gone a couple of months without any ARCs hitting my desk that grabbed my attention.
Now the spring ARC season has begun. This week, not one, but two very promising books arrived.
I'm not really too good at getting interested in fiction - at least not fiction that seems to be made of whole cloth.
If I read fiction, I like the story line to revolve around a gripping bit of history especially if it is a sub-genre of historical fiction I call bio-fiction. In bio-fiction, an author takes an intriguing person from history, with little or no surviving documentation about that person’s life, and then creates a life for them that might have fit within the times they moved.
The first book in the picture below - Diamond Ruby, by Joseph Wallace - falls into the category for intriguing historical central character. And by my lights, it doesn’t hurt that the backdrop is baseball. Diamond Ruby is based on was a female footnote in baseball history. A girl named Jackie Mitchell, who in the spring of 1931, struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gerhig in an exhibition game between the Yankees and a minor league team called the Chattanooga Lookouts. Jackie’s status as the first woman to break the gender barrier in baseball, didn’t lead to fame. Instead it led to obscurity via those two strikeouts. The commissioner of baseball couldn’t face the prospect of women in his beloved sport – especially if they proved able to strike out a legend or two. He ruled that women should be banned from baseball on the grounds that the sport was too strenuous for them.
Wallace takes the spirit of Jackie Mitchell, and creates in Diamond Ruby, a girl who managed to accomplish all the things Jackie had dreamed of. I’m looking forward to reading it.
The other book that caught my attention is another of my favorite kinds of read - memoirs that don’t take themselves very seriously. The title and the cover photo of Josh Kilmer-Purcell’s new book would have won my interest, even without reading the blurbs. Two of the most non-farmer looking guys in suits and muck boots hanging out with some goats. The blurbs sealed the deal, and it came home with me.
Diamon Ruby is due to publish in May, and The Bucolic Plague in June.