|Friday, 15 June 2012 09:11|
Dirty Rice: A Season in the Evangeline League Reviewed on the Washington Independent Review of Books
Snapshots - June 16, 2012
You know that feeling baseball players get, the one that makes them want to linger on the field or in the clubhouse after a good game, because they sense that once they leave, the game will truly be over, and the spirit of camaraderie it engendered will be yesterday's old news? Gerald Duff knows it. Or at least Gemar Batiste, the narrator-protagonist in Dirty Rice, Duff's eighth novel — a minor-league baseball tale in the tradition of "Bull Durham" — surely does. Batiste, a pure-of-heart Alabama-Coushatta-Indian, is a rookie in the Evangeline League, at the bottom of the baseball food chain in Depression-era southern Louisiana, where almost nothing is as simple as it seems, and just about everybody has learned to live with the ambiguities. Peopled by the usual suspects — a superstitious manager who keeps a live toad under his cap for luck, a "Cuban" shortstop treading the fine line between black and white, a not-as-hard-as- she seems landlady and her temptress daughter; conniving owners, embellishing sportswriters and resourceful gamblers — the tale doesn't go much of anywhere you wouldn't expect it to, as Gemar Batiste himself might say. But somewhere along the way you realize that feeling the ballplayers get — not wanting to leave the ballpark after a good game — isn't all that much different from the reader who wants to see how the story turns out, but doesn't want it to end.
To read the review online, click here.