Review: Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me by Stacey May Fowles

Sunday, 31 December 2017
This review originally appeared at The Hamilton Review of Books.

Award-winning novelist, journalist, and essayist Stacey May Fowles knows which sections of a ballpark are safest for her to sit in. She knows where she’s least likely to be harassed or to hear sexist, homophobic, or racist language. She also knows that despite being a space that is often unwelcoming to women, a ballpark is her “church,” a place that offers her a precious few hours of escape and a sense of constancy.

Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me is Fowles’ collection of enthusiastic essays that celebrates baseball and the “strange grip” it has on her, while also being critical of the sport. It is a much-needed look at baseball through a gendered lens, exploring topics including Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, the correlation between sports injuries and mental health, and the male-dominated media’s “very limited and skewed depiction of women’s relationships with sports.”

On many occasions, Fowles’ fandom seems obsessive. “The emotion the game stirs in me is like an itch I can’t scratch, a feeling I’ll never really understand,” she writes in the book’s first essay, “It’s Enough That We’re Here: Thoughts on Baseball and Recovery.” At times, her wistful language and metaphors that compare baseball to romantic love might seem hyperbolic, especially for casual baseball fans. However, it is quickly understood that Fowles’ love of the game is deeper than an admiration for her favourite hitters and pitchers. Baseball is a refuge from her sexual assault, infertility, and “the thick fog of sadness” that overtook her mental health.

Read the rest of this review at The Hamilton Review of Books.

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