After finishing reading a tattered copy of a Walker Percy book (see last posting), I shifted 180 degrees and switched to a recently purchased copy of John Updike's account of Hall of Fame slugger Ted Williams' final game at Fenway Park in Boston.
Published last year, Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu is a re-issue of an essay that John Updike wrote for the New Yorker in October, 1960 a few weeks after witnessing Williams' exit from baseball. Less than fifty pages long, Updike's writing is superb and worthy of all the praise from notable sportswriters such as Roger Angell and Peter Gammons that grace the back dust jacket.
What struck me about this slender $15 book, which you can read entirely over your Saturday morning coffee, is how physically wonderful it is to hold. Designed by Chip Kidd, the book jacket is shiny with the title hologram over the picture of Williams and the subtitle, “John Updike On Ted Williams.”
The inside art (known as the endpapers) has a reprint of Updike typewritten manuscript complete with edits and minor changes. If you remove the jacket, you'll see a second cover – a sepia tinged, black and white photo of Ted Williams' perfect swing, which Updike describes as “a grand motion, never a lunge or a hasty fending, with a graceful follow-through that left his body yearning toward first base.”
I almost decided not to include my pathetic photograph with this posting, because it doesn't do the look and feel of this book justice (and baseball is a tactile sport: the leather of the mitt, the red stitches of the baseball, the grip of the bat....) Stop by your local bookstore ( I picked up my copy at Blue Elephant) and check it out. Hold it in your hand. Can you resist taking it home?