Wade Davis

Wednesday reading — wars of various kinds

What I've been reading

I read The War that Saved My Life, which was a Newbery Honor book, among other honors. Although it was extremely accomplished in many respects, I thought it felt very anachronistic and very American, and it seems really lazy to keep going back to the WWII well for award bait, especially when the setting feels so unconvincing. I mean, I wouldn't be so annoyed if it wasn't so good otherwise!

I read The Psychology of Baseball: Inside the Mental Game of the Major League Player, a book which my dad bought for himself but which I stole and read first because it looked interesting. It was interesting, although since it mostly covered things like how hitters physically recognize and react to pitches and how outfielders track balls I have to imagine there's been more recent/technologically advanced research since 2007 that would be pertinent.

I read The Shadow Hero, the origin story for a Chinese-American superhero that Gene Luen Yang invented based on a real character from some off-brand golden age comics who showed up in five issues and then vanished forever. Which is a really cool idea, even though I think, tonally, the execution is a little all over the place.

I read Catcher: How the Man Behind the Plate Became an American Folk Hero. Apparently, before baseball gloves were invented catchers used to catch barehanded, which was all very well and good until pitchers started trying to actually get batters out with their pitches, instead of just sort of lobbing the ball out there to get things started. The good catchers apparently had a knack for sort of using the fingers of both hands to absorb the speed of the ball, but even then their fingers were constantly broken or split open or both. In spite of this, lots of boys apparently wanted to be catchers for some reason—this is where the author's thesis about folk heroes comes in—but even with this large potential talent pool it got to the point that there were only a handful of major-league calibre catchers who were uninjured enough to play at all, which put a hard limit on the number of competitive teams that could be fielded. Then the mask, chest protector and glove were invented, in that order, and the catcher bottleneck disappeared, although in spite of the fact that catching is still so arduous that I think you have to be a little crazy to even consider doing it, people stopped idolizing or even respecting catchers.

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They should aim for the 1960s, I think.

So what was anachronistic? People watching TV? Making phone calls?

I get amazed at how quickly modern fiction feels outdated, though I suppose it isn't as bad as non-fiction, with its zillions of dead website links.
Heh, nothing that terrible/hilarious, alas. I've inconveniently returned it to the library since demand is high at the moment, but one thing that really bugged me was when the protagonist was having a meltdown and her new parental figure type was trying to soothe her by repeating, "You're okay," over and over. Stuff like that.

You'd think there'd be more stuff set in the 80s, considering how big the 80s were on stuff set in the 50s.
It'd be interesting to see what kind of anachronisms would pop up then. Pagers, anyone? When I think back to the 80s, it was bright colors, plastic, press-on nails, and cloyingly scented toys, but is that what it was like for everyone or just me (as a kid)?