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76 Western American Literature the Brooks Range,” “Along the Divide,” and “Oil Versus Wilderness: The Future.” Each of these essays weaves together personal narrative, factual reportage, and political argument. As might be expected, Debbie Miller is an advocate of environmental conservation with respect to the issue of oil development in the Arctic Refuge. “What we take out of the ground,” she writes, “we can’t put back. What wilderness we alter or destroy, we can’t re-create. If we industrialize the wildest corner of America for temporary economic gains, we are robbing from future generations of mankind and wildlife.” Midnight Wilderness is an eloquent argument for preservation; the author’s love for this austere but beautiful realm is apparent on every page. A favorite chapter of this reviewer—“A Mystery Solved”—relates a startling discovery Debbie Miller made while backpacking in the remote Philip Smith Mountains. As the party hiked up a trailless drainage, searching for a pass over the rugged mountain, they came upon the wreckage of a plane. A quick search revealed the old flight logs. It was later determined that Miller had solved one of Alaska’s most mysterious aircraft disappearances, for this was the plane on which Clarence Rhode, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional director, was lost in 1958. Miller later recounts the emotional experi­ ence of leading members of the Rhode family to the crash site. There is some first-rate personal writing in this essay, as there is through­ out Midnight Wilderness. Debbie Miller personalizes the Arctic Refuge in the knowledge that, in order for readers to fully appreciate the uniqueness of this national asset, they must be given a sense of the land and the people as well as of the political issues involved. “If you never have the opportunity to visit the refuge,” Miller writes, “it is hoped that you will vicariously experience the Arctic [in this book], and enjoy discovering the special wilderness and wildlife values of the area through these personal accounts.” JOHN A. MURRAY University of Alaska, Fairbanks California Rush. By Sherwood Kiraly. (New York: Macmillan, 1990. $17.95.) Supposedly, Ted Williams once said that the hardest thing in the world to do was to hit a baseball with a bat. The second hardest thing, he continued, was to throw a baseball where a batter couldn’t hit it with a bat. Williams might have gone on to say that the third hardest thing to do is to write an original novel about baseball. Oh, it’s been done. But for every home run such as Ron Hays’ The Dixie Association or Kinsella’s Field of Dreams, for every Bull Durham and The Natural, for every book by Ring Lardner, Jim Bouton, and Lawrence Ritter, there are volumes of strike-outs. The number “sent down” each year is legion. Reviews 77 But last summer I discovered a new hitter in the line-up, Sherwood Kiraly. His book, California Rush, is as delightful as any summer’s evening spent with a beer and a hotdog, watching the boys of summer in the flesh. It’s more than merely a “sports novel” : It’s fun, fluffy, frivolous. But it’s also a well told yarn which makes a touching and, I think, telling point. To try to summarize California Rush is like trying to explain a joke before it’s told, or, more aptly, like rehearsing a no-hitter to someone who wasn’t there. To be brief, it is the story of three minor league players, Charlie Tyke, Davy Tremayne, and Jay Bates, who rise from Double-A nobodydom to become stars in the major leagues. It’s a colorful rise, a comic rise, and, in a word, it’s baseball. Along the way, all the glitz and glamour of the game are stripped away, and what’s left is the absurdity and the drama of the Ameri­ can sport. The story is about friendship, love, hate, revenge, and it turns on wonder­ fully outrageous situations and witty dialogue, peppery with locker room elo­ quence. The “game scenes” are handled gracefully and are easy to follow, as play-by-play action swirls around the diamond. If...


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