The Fat Lady's Low, Sad Song

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

Parker Westfall is in the twilight of his career. He's recruited to a ragtag independent pro ball team with a poor manager to shake things up and bring the team together. He still has dreams for the majors but is just getting by week to week. The owner has also decided to sign up Courtney Morgan, a young knuckleballer, who also happens to be a woman.

Brian has crafted a very compelling novel, full of memorable characters. I found this one very hard to put down and loved it being set in the minors. The conflict between Grady, the manager, and Westfall was particularly engaging, as Westfall found the courage to bring the team together. 

I was particularly excited, as a woman, at the prospect of a novel focusing on a professional female baseball player. I would have loved to have seen things more from her side of it. I also wished the author had not placed her there as a romantic interest for Parker, but had instead relied on her being of interest in the story solely as a ballplayer. Early in the story, as Courtney is introduced, the narrator remarks 'Girls are for dating, something Parker has avoided'. Compare this to 'Throw Like a Woman' by Susan Petrone, or 'A Season of Daring Greatly' by Ellen Emerson White, novels that explore what it means, and what it costs, to be a female ballplayer but also focuses on their value as ballplayers.

Putting this aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the characters in this story and the way in which they are able to bring their best baseball, bind their community and perhaps find their better selves. For Parker Westfall this book poetically explores what it means to chase a dream, to fall short but perhaps to find something beautiful and inspiring in the process.

Thank you kindly to NetGalley, Black Rose Writing and Brian Kaufman for a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Parker Westfall is a career minor league baseball player facing a crossroad in his career when he gets an unexpected phone call with an invitation to play for the Fort Collins Miners, an independent league team.  He accepts and that is the beginning of a great adventure of one Miners season captured in this wonderful book by Brian Kaufman. 

The reader will not only learn about Westfall and some of his secrets, but also about several of his Fort Collins teammates.  Along the way, the reader is introduced to a smart, aging catcher who is trying to play through the pain of injury, an inspirational shortstop who pushes teammates to put in extra work, the manager who is stubborn and won’t show his players any slack, and even some fans who instead of attending games in the stadium will gather on the other side of the river from the ballpark and form their own fan club.  

However, there is one other special member of the Miners and that is a young pitcher named Courtney Morgan.  She is a knuckleball pitcher who shows great promise but because she blindly follows the instructions given her by coaches and the manager, she is struggling.  Parker approaches her to help and she is very resistant at first. I had to admit that I thought this story would then turn into a sports romance novel, but it does not do so at all.  Instead, Parker and Courtney work on their skills together and develop a nice platonic relationship in which the reader learns more about these characters.

The baseball scenes are realistic and describe good game action and interaction between opponents and teammates alike. The interactions with fans, especially when Parker and Courtney visit the fans outside the stadium, are heartwarming. Through these and other scenes which range from humorous to dangerous to maddening, the reader will discover the true beauty of this book and that is that each person involved in a baseball team will have his or her own stories and contributions to the overall success or failure of that team.

Finally, the ending was one that was a surprise as the book ends soon after the season does I did not think that each of the characters would have the positions they would eventually take after the season.  There are no obvious cliffhangers but the reader does close the book wondering if there could be a sequel to this story for Parker and for Courtney, but in their own separate ways.  This was a very satisfying conclusion to a very satisfying book.

I wish to thank Black Rose Writing for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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I enjoyed this, rather unexpectedly as I know nothing of baseball and have little interest in sport, on the whole. The characters and the interplay between them are very well done and I liked the low level tension that ratcheted up in places. That said, the pace was a little slow and characters all too often had overly stereotypical features. So, a good but not great read.
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I loved this story. I loved the writing. Brian Kaufman has created interesting, quirky characters, put them in a team in the independent minor baseball leagues and handed them pages full of challenges. At the beginning of each chapter there is a quote; some by baseball’s great players and coaches, some by literary notables, each one is a small gem. 

This is a short book worthy of your time. Pay attention, there is much to be learned because baseball isn’t just “iced lemonade and a porch swing on a hot summer night.” 

Thank you NetGalley and Black Rose Writing for a copy.
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