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Local Book Notes: Bedrooms Of The Fallen

"The Fourth of July will be marked tomorrow, as usual, with barbecues and fireworks and displays of patriotic fervor," Levi Stahl writes at the University of Chicago Press blog.

"This year, it will also be marked by the publication of a book that honors patriotism - and counts its costs - in a more somber way: Ashley Gilbertson's Bedrooms of the Fallen. The book presents photographs of the bedrooms of forty soldiers - the number in a platoon-who died while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. The bedrooms, preserved by the families as memorials in honor of their lost loved ones, are a stark, heartbreaking reminder of the real pain and loss that war brings. As NPR's The Two-Way put it, 'Never have empty bedrooms looked so full.'"

Here's Gilbertson narrating some of his photos.


Before Ball Four
"A cocky book, caustic, and candid and, in a way, courageous," began Red Smith's review of The Long Season, relief pitcher Jim Brosnan's record of his 1959 season, spent between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds, "for Brosnan calls them as he sees them, doesn't hesitate to name names, and employs ridicule like a stiletto. He infuriated a lot of men in baseball, but he wrote an honest book that furnished an insight into the ballplayer's life which no outsider could possibly get."

"Brosnan, who died June 28 at 84, jolted baseball in more ways than one," Jeff Kallman writes at Sports Central. Jonathan Yardley, the nonpareil literary critic of The Washington Post, isolated the point 10 years ago, when reviewing The Long Season retroactively in 2004, upon its fresh republication (in hand with Pennant Race) in quality paperback: 'The book was greeted with astonishment outside baseball, since the notion that a ballplayer could write (not to mention write well) was beyond consideration, and with fury inside baseball, where players and sportswriters charged that by portraying the game honestly, Brosnan had violated its code of omerta.'

"The Long Season might not have happened had Brosnan not bumped into a Sports Illustrated editor, Bob Boyle, who'd heard the bespectacled relief pitcher - whose clear-rimmed eyeglasses and locker full of books earned him the nickname The Professor (from Frank Robinson, his Cincinnati teammate) - had ambitions about writing a book about major league baseball.

"Boyle invited Brosnan to write an article 'if something significant happens.' Perhaps characteristically, Brosnan suggested a piece about his trade from the Chicago Cubs to the Cardinals for veteran shortstop Alvin Dark. (One reporter called the trade 'a mutt for a pedigreed pooch - a real steal for the Cubs.') 'Loved it,' Boyle said when the article was published. 'Why don't you write a book about a whole season?'"


Brosnan was born and memorialized in Morton Grove.

Days & Months
* Chicago Independent Bookstore Day: July 12.

* International Zine Month: Happening now.


Comments welcome.


Posted on July 3, 2014

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SPORTS - Chicago vs. Michigan, 1903.

BOOKS - Dia De Los Muertos Stories.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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