Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review of "The Utility of Boredom"

When I received this book and read the description, I wasn't sure what to expect. Collections of short stories are usually a mixed bag at best - not this one - I loved each story and many of them will be loved by all baseball fans.  Here is my review of "The Utility of Boredom."

“The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays” by Andrew Forbes

Baseball, collection, short stories, Blue Jays

Publish date:
April 4, 2016

160 pages

5 of 5 stars (outstanding)

No matter the genre or topic, a book that is a collection of essays or short stories will usually be a mixed bag with some good ones, some not-so-good ones and some that are so-so.  That is not the case with this collection of baseball essays penned by Andrew Forbes. Each story is one that Forbes writes from the heart and expresses his love for the game of baseball and his favorite team, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Of the essays that talk mostly about the game on the field, his love of the Blue Jays shows, especially the ones about the 1992 World Series championship team and the emotions he was experiencing during the 2015 postseason that ended with the Blue Jays losing to the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series.

One of the passages in that essay is a great illustration of the terrific writing Forbes exhibits in each story. When describing his joy when Jose Bautista hit a home run in the deciding fifth game of the Division Series, Forbes describes when he “lost it” in this fashion:

“It was the most gloriously and deliriously deterministic moment imaginable…It was fantasy made real, anti-logic captured on live TV. It was a bullet to the brain of objectivity. It made no sense whatsoever and it was beautiful.”  That is quite the description of a moment that many fans will experience when their favorite team has a dramatic moment – in this case it was Bautista’s home run and subsequent bat flip. I thought the description of his emotions and passions in that paragraph was vivid and beautiful.

Other essays that were excellent included one on San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Baumgarner, defunct teams such as the Seattle Pilots and the essay that matches the title of the book. I will end this review with an excerpt from that essay as it had the best explanation I have read that tells why I and many other fans believe that baseball is the greatest game on earth:

“You have to think of the long game. Baseball’s an exercise in concentration, a chance to train the brain to ignore the echoes of other forms of entertainment offering easier enticements. You sit through nine innings because that’s how long a game is and you want to watch a game. You sit through blowouts. You endure a game devoid of offense and call it a pitcher’s duel. When you attend a game, you show up early and stay until the final out is recorded, transit schedules and traffic be damned. This is your quiet commitment.  This is your loyalty and your investment., your faith that every recess and concavity will eventually be mirrored by something amazing. Slow and steady, you say.”


I wish to thank Invisible Publishing for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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