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Monday, December 18, 2006

Columbus Slaughters Braves

Columbus Slaughters Braves by Mark Friedman

October 2, 2005

"Columbus Slaughters Braves" I think had all the elements for being a great novel, but instead of a home run it dies on the warning track. The reason is the novel is too short and brusque to become emotionally invested in the story or the characters.

The story is about Joe Columbus and his brother CJ who grows up to be a gifted third-baseman for the Cubs while Joe becomes a teacher in a Maryland school and has an icy relationship with his wife, who spends an increasing amount of time at the law firm where she works. When CJ becomes ill, Joe has to put aside years of bitterness and jealousy to go to his brother's side.

What I appreciate about this novel is that it resists the urge to deevolve into Nicholas Sparks-style sentimentality. There are no hokey make-up speeches or teary farewells. In that way I think it is a more realistic novel about estranged brothers.

As I said earlier, I think what keeps this from being a great novel is that it's so short, coming in at just 200 pages in paperback. That means the story doesn't develop at the pace where the reader can really get close to the characters or become invested in the story. As a result of the brusque storytelling, it seems too dry to be a home run baseball novel.

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