The Eskimo Slugger left me speechless hours after reading it. I mean, WOW. I kept repeating everything I’ve read in my head. Long after the book’s conclusion, I’m still thinking about Trent Days and Brendan Baxter, and it was like a time warp that my mind went back to the setting and the characters of the book’s accompanying novels – The Nothingness of Ben and The Return. I’ve mixed emotions about this book. It made me sad, nostalgic, happy, and peaceful and a bucket full of fierce feelings I’ve never thought I’d feel for a book since reading The Lonesome Dove [Larry McMurty] and Beach Music [Pat Conroy] years ago.
It’s the summer of 1983, and Trent Days, born to an Inupiat Mother in Alaska, was dubbed by the press as the Eskimo Slugger for his sensational record at the Major Baseball League. A midseason collision halted his rise to the top, which sent him back to Austin to recuperate. When Trent visited his favorite record store, he met the eager and funny law student Brendan Baxter. A skip on a record vinyl sent him back to the store and Brendan, leading to date and a blossoming romance.
If you’ve read Brad Boney’s previous two novels (The Nothingness of Ben and The Return), you’d see the parallelism used to connect each character and each event. Of course, it’s not so much of parallelism if one considers the theme used via The Return (I’d instead leave it like this because I want you guys to get hold of these books!). One can also mention the beautiful juxtaposition of Trent & Brendan characters with “Travis & Ben” of The Nothingness of Ben. The whole mixed up was just a wee bit nostalgic and sometimes even jaw-dropping. I was mentally screaming, Oh shoot! Shoot! – Brad Boney is killing me with this!!!
I guess the beauty of this book relies upon the well-constructed development of the story. It started with Trent and Brendan’s first meeting, how they quickly got along, the meeting of each other’s friends, and its conclusion that was woven beautifully into another time. It’s also a great feeling to see characters from his previous books. It’s like I’ve known these people in my life, and knowing their story makes me yearn for more – it makes me ask more questions, makes me want to go back and reread that particular chapter/page.
I’ve always mentioned that The Return has a very special place in my heart for some reason. I guess, looking back – it’s always the quality of Brad Boney’s writing that made me say this. The Nothingness Of Ben was nothing short of extraordinary. The Return will always be like my favorite toy, but The Eskimo Slugger is the perfect example of Brad Boney’s artistry. That man’s a genius!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Published September 29th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
About The Author
Brad Boney lives in Austin, Texas, the 7th gayest city in America. He grew up in the Midwest and went to school at NYU. He lived in Washington, DC and Houston before settling in Austin. He blames his background in the theater for his writing style, which he calls “dialogue and stage directions.” His first book was named a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He believes the greatest romantic comedy of all time is ’50 First Dates’. His favorite gay film of the last ten years is ‘Strapped’. And he has never met a boy band he didn’t like.