Having written books in practically every genre, George Bowering is often introduced as someone who adores baseball, yet ironically he did not begin this book about the game until he was appointed Canada’s first Poet Laureate for 2002–04. This picaresque memoir of a road trip with his fiancée through the storied ballparks of a poet’s youthful dreams is built on the bargain of fiction—that the narration of someone else’s life requires the listener or reader to fill in the blanks of what we know is out there, somewhere in the world, but which takes place at such a great distance of time and space from us that we can only imagine it to be real.
Beginning with the exquisite charm of listening in on Bowering as a youthful sports reporter in his home town of Oliver in 1948, “the greatest year in human history,” moving through the brash hubris of his career as a star player–reporter in the Kosmic League of the 1970s, to staring down the bittersweet foul line of the Twilight League of the twenty–first century, Baseball Love is a book about Bowering’‘s life in love and the game, played with a consummate craft and skill into the paradise of what we can only ever imagine to be real, and leavened at all times by the conscious and playfully ironic chatter of the infield.
Its provenance uncertain, the diamond in the ballpark—where no cars are allowed to drive, where time stands still unless there’s an out and where one adheres to the rules governing behaviour in the yard—is the quintessential North American vision of paradise: a walled garden in the midst of the dark satanic mills of blind industrial progress and the chaos of the everyday in the exploited wilderness that surrounds it.
George Bowering, Canada’s first Poet Laureate, was born in the Okanagan Valley.
After serving as an aerial photographer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, Bowering earned a BA in English and an MA in history at the University of British Columbia, where he became one of the co-founders of the avant-garde poetry magazine TISH. He has taught literature at the University of Calgary, the University of Western Ontario, and Simon Fraser University, and he continues to act as a Canadian literary ambassador at international conferences and readings.
A distinguished novelist, poet, editor, professor, historian, and tireless supporter of fellow writers, Bowering has authored more than eighty books, including works of poetry, fiction, autobiography, biography and youth fiction. His writing has also been translated into French, Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese, and Romanian.
Bowering has twice won the Governor General’s Award, Canada’s top literary prize. In 2019 he received the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement for an outstanding literary career in British Columbia.
“George Bowering doesn’t play fair. Baseball Love is so good there is no memoir in the league that can go up against it. Bowering has a sense of story and an eye for detail that eliminate the possibility that he was a lousy second baseman. Reading a home run is fun.”
“As anyone who played with him or attended minor league games at Vancouver’s picturesque Nat Bailey Stadium is aware, he talked a better game than he played. To say this is no insult, either. Bowering had a truly unique and fabulous baseball mouth as both player and fan. He literally never shuts up at a game, and he is almost always outrageously funny … Baseball Love is a love poem to baseball, beautifully and wittily written, and a subtle piece of social history. Not many people stay in love for sixty years, and there are few writers with a sharper eye than George Bowering. That makes this a worthwhile read for baseball fans, and anyone else with an appreciation of deep and abiding fidelities.”
“The indispensable George Bowering’s Baseball Love is a winning memoir cum love story, as Canada’s first poet laureate and his lady embark on a memorable—in every sense—baseball trope: the road trip.”
—Globe and Mail