Steve Kluger has written extensively on subjects as far-ranging as World War II, rock 'n' roll, and the Titanic, and as close to the heart as baseball and the Boston Red Sox. He lives in Santa Monica, California.
"April 9, 1940. I have decided to turn to a life of crime." Thus begins a riotous novel-in-letters to and from 12-year-old smart aleck Joey Margolis, a Brooklyn boy in search of a hero. After his parents' divorce, Joey is left to his own devices: sending top-secret notes to his pal Craig Nakamura, dodging bullies, and advising President Roosevelt on foreign policy. Joey's hatred of the Brooklyn Dodgers inspires him to strike up a correspondence with the New York Giants' rookie third baseman, Charlie Banks. Reluctantly, Charlie grows fond of the little scam artist, and the two become friends. But when the war intervenes, Joey must learn what it takes to be a man. This quick read from playwright/novelist Kluger is laugh-out-loud funny, with one-liners and hilarious situations on every page. For all libraries, public and academic.‘Christine Perkins, Jackson Cty. Lib. Svcs., Medford, OR
Mixing nostalgia, baseball and a boy's mostly epistolary friendship with a 1940s baseball star, this inventive but sentimental novel consists entirely of letters, fictional newspaper clippings, telegrams, war dispatches, report cards and other documentary fragments. Growing up Jewish in a tough, Italian Brooklyn neighborhood, Joey Margolis is troubled by anti-Semitic neighbors, by Hitler's rising power, by his parents' divorce and by his absent cad of a father. Craving a surrogate dad, Joey strikes up a correspondence with Wisconsin-born New York Giants slugger Charlie Banks. The boy's outrageous fibs, tough-guy posturing and desperate pleas grab the reluctant attention of the superstar, whose racy vernacular guy-talk (peppered with amusing misspellings and misusages) hints at his deepening affection for Joey. Charlie is a politically enlightened proletarian ballplayer with a heart of gold. His liberal views find an echo in Joey, whose best friend, Japanese-American Craig Nakamura, gets shipped off with his family to a wartime internment camp. In a plot that swerves from Joey's Bar Mitzvah to a White House meeting with President Roosevelt to a tearjerking climax, Kluger keeps changing the pace and piles on a slew of period references with a heavy hand. Despite these flaws, this debut novel is at its best a poignant, golden evocation of one boy's lost innocence. Author tour. (June)