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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 there’s a boring page or banal sentence, I sailed right past it while I was chuckling, chortling, and often guffawing at Kiraly’s sense of timing and humor. To top it off, Kiraly knows the game, and he uses what he knows without grandstanding. What emerges is a marvelous, funny book about something dear to the American heart. Like the game itself, it satisfies without deliberately hurting anyone, and in the end, there’s a clear decision. California Rush is a 2-RBI triple at least, and in terms of pure entertainment, it might be a Grand Slam. If it doesn’t make a reader laugh, then it’s probably because he’s a football fan, and everyone knows that football has no sense of humor. CLAY REYNOLDS University of North Texas Power and Glory. By Robert Easton. (Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1989. 380 pages, $12.95.) Power and Glory, the second volume of Robert Easton’s “Saga of Cali­ fornia,” moves from 1853 to the first weeks of the Civil War, viewing those turbulent years from the vantage point of a California undergoing the meta­ morphosis from new state to national power. While the novel is primarily a California story (all but a few of its chapters are set there), it is an American story as well, offering a fascinating portrayal of the operation of the Under­ ground Railway and a detailed account of the struggle between slavery and anti-slavery factions to control the state’s destiny. It demonstrates how local history can be both vital in itself and a means of understanding national issues as well. At the center of Easton’s large cast of characters is Señora Clara Boneau, whose story was begun in This Promised Land, the first volume of the projected 78 Western American Literature series. Now an aged matriarch, she must endure a protracted battle in the courts over the legitimacy of the title to her ranch, watch her beloved sacred trees cut down by squatters, and accept the gradual estrangement of her older son. She is joined by a host of other historical figures, among them Lincoln, Seward, Grant, Sherman, and John Brown. Yet the novel does not focus exclusively on the famous. Easton’s common men and women—servants, domestics, slaves, Asian- and African-Americans, the “invisible” men and women—play an essential if heretofore unacknowledged role in shaping the course of American history. Easton’s narrative voice is conversational; he wants to tell his story, and he does so in a style that is deceptively simple. He introduces dozens of char­ acters, delineates their personalities and motives, and enmeshes them in the great web of ambition, struggle, and sacrifice that is social history without sacri­ ficing the momentum of his often melodramatic plot. His descriptions are sometimes stilted (“delicious odors of cooking...


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