05 May 2014

Reviewing I Don't Care if We Never Get Back

I Don't Care if We Never Get Back is a road trip book written by two relatively successful and up and coming writers, Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster.  The general idea behind road trip books is that this short term journey acts as a metaphor for the larger journey of life.  At least, it can be.  Typically, a great deal of deterministic thought derails and a great new understanding takes its place.  The mundane slog through unending salt flats opens up into a grander vista of fertile plain eye candy.  This is not that book.  Instead, what we have is a road trip book that superficially works its way through the events that unfold over the course of 30 days without even pulling out any richness in the moment.

The premise of the book is that two recent graduates from Harvard take on a grueling schedule to hit every single stadium over the course of 30 days.  One of the adventurers is described as obliviously math focused to where he has a hard time understanding others who are not.  He is the baseball fan.  His foil of a companion is more of an everyman who must deal with the trials and tribulations artificially placed upon him.  Although baseball is ever present, it still seems to fade away into the background as a structure device as new characters move in and out of the story as well as new obstacles suddenly appearing.

In a way, it reminded me of an experience I had as a Junior in college.  Most of my friends were intellectual equals, but I trumped them in most athletic pursuits.  As a young man or old boy is wont to do, I would often display my physical dominance by performing feats of strength.  It made sense then to do these things, but only to the socially stunted mind of a 20 year old guy.  Anyway, the feat in question was to jump up and grab ahold of a limb while discussing Dostoyevsky.  The limb was a little to broad, I lost my grip, and I came crashing down.  I managed to get one leg under me, but could not regain any balance.  Instead, the planted leg pushed off and changed the direction of my fall from the lush grass and toward the side walk upon which I cracked my head and was concussed.  For the rest of the day, events happened, but I had no emotional connection to anything.  I knew how things should make me feel, but I was simply indifferent to everything.  It was frustrating and problematic. 

This book feels like it is concussed.  Events happen, but there is no emotional weight.  We are simply told that things happen, but I never felt the emotional attachment in the events that transpired.  Perhaps we were told someone was angry or tired, but I never felt it.  That may well be a failure to connect as a reader as opposed to a failure to reach out by the authors and demand attention.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed a book, The Devil's Snake Curve, which is also a road trip, sans road.  That book wove the author into the threads of baseball and America, developing a book that spoke to me far more deeply about self discovery than I found here.  I want that book here and maybe that is my problem.  I want to learn more about these guys and what baseball means to them.  However, their interaction with the game was largely handled with a shrug and a quip.  In a way, that seems to actually be quite fitting for the title.  They don't seem care if they never get back to the stadium and I believe that.


I Don't Care if We Never Get Back
Ben Blatt and Eric Brewster
272 pages
Grove Press


Philip said...

Read "Seasons in Hell" about the 72-73 Texas Rangers and Billy Martin.
The funniest book you'll ever read about sports.
Even after multiple readings it's still the funniest sports book I've ever read.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I remember laughing a lot when reading Jim Bouton's Ball Four.

Jon Shepherd said...

Odd Man Out was an amusing book, but it seems that perhaps much of it is...embellished.