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The Beckoning World: A Novel

The Beckoning World: A Novel

By Douglas Bauer

University of Iowa Press

November 1, 2022

Jan says, I don’t typically read “baseball books,” but this is so much more than a baseball book.  I have long admired Bauer’s writing and his lovely novel doesn’t disappoint.  With its connections to small-town Iowa, the celebrity of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, the tragedy of the Spanish flu, and the touching daily interactions of family life, the story unfolds and embraces you.  As the blurb by author Dennis Lehane states, “The characters and the world stayed with me long after I closed the cover.” 

The Beckoning World is set in the first quarter of the twentieth century and follows Earl Dunham. His weeks are comprised of six days mining coal, followed by Sundays playing baseball. Then one day a major-league scout happens on a game, signs Earl, and he begins a life he had no idea he could even dream.

But dreams sometimes suffer from a lovely abundance, and in Earl’s case her name is Emily Marchand. They fall quickly and deeply in love, but with that love comes heartbreaking complications.

The Beckoning World gathers a cast of characters that include Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig; a huge-hearted Pullman steward offering aphoristic wisdom; and countless others, not least of which is the 1918 Spanish flu taking vivid spectral form. At the center is a relentless love that Earl and Emily are defenseless against, allied as they are “in this business of their hearts.

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