Will you look at this beautiful thing?
Harvey Frommer‘s Remembering Fenway Park (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $45) is more than a picture book about one of America’s last two remaining great old ballparks. It’s also the perfect Father’s Day gift.
It is that, of course, and this will look swell on all of the best coffee tables in America.
But Professor Frommer (Dartmouth, dude) is a historian and the history he has compiled is just as stunning as the pictures he has assembled.
Though Frommer has written serial narrative histories, what he has done in this book — and in its companion volume, Remembering Yankee Stadium, which turned out of be a eulogy for the House that Ruth Built — is to assemble the story of the ballpark in its own words.
And by ‘its own words,’ of course, we mean in the words of those who love the place.
Frommer has put together and affectionate yet-not-sentimental account of this ballpark, which opened to the public the week the Titanic sank. (Just last week, the Fenway tenants, the Boston Red Sox, announced plans for its 100th anniversary celebration next season.
In an era of instant disposability, a place like Fenway Park (and there aren’t too many places like Fenway Park), should be treasured. After years of building ballparks that looked like spaceships from bad science fiction films, Major League Baseball began embracing its past a couple of decades ago, and began building stadiums that emulated the classic era. Baltimore and Cleveland both did good jobs copying that style.
But Fenway and Wrigley Field in Chicago don’t have to copy anything. They are originals, and they’re treasures. If you’ve never been there, get Frommer’s book, then book your ticket.
And now, a great mystery: The incredible Michael Connelly keeps the hits coming.
A few years ago, the toughie critic Janet Maslin of the New York Times seemed to think Connelly had a problem: he was too prolific.
For readers who love his novels, that’s no problem.
He made his bones with his masterful detective novels starring hard-bitten jazz aficiando and Vietnam veteran Harry Bosch. Along the way, he’s introduced a journalist (Jack McEvoy ofThe Poet and The Scarecrow) and FBI profilers Rachel Walling and Terry McCaleb.
He had to kill off the McCaleb character because Clint Eastwood played him in the movie version of Blood Work and the Steely-Eyed One so overshadowed the much-younger-in-real-life McCaleb that readers would think of McCaleb as Dirty Harry.
A few years back, Connelly gave us The Lincoln Lawyer, his legal thriller starring Mickey Haller, Harry Bosch’s half-brother. That series took off and now Matthew McConnaughey may have turned that into a movie franchise.
The Fifth Witness (Little Brown, $26.95) is another Mickey Haller book and it’s one of those truly ripped-from-the-headlines stories, as the foreclosure crisis leads to a murder.
It’s a book you devour as much as you read. It’s another example of Connelly’s craft and a good reason why he’s usually mentioned in the same breath as Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain.
And there’s another novel, The Drop — featuring Harry Bosch — due in October.
Since when is being prolific a bad thing?