By R. M. Krakoff
A Book Review by James Tipton
Author’s Blog: http://robertkrakoff.blogspot.mx/
I always look forward to reading a new R. M. Krakoff novel. Timeball, his latest, displays once again Krakoff’s wild imagination, his ability to craft a story that is both outrageous and believable, and filled with dark humor, alternative history, adventure, and love.
I also recommend his earlier books: Die Laughing is about a stand-up comedian who makes people laugh while his own life crumbles around him; The Atzlàn Kid assumes a world that might have been had the Aztecs defeated Cortez; Future Schlock:2047 places us into a world controlled by banks, Wall Street, and mega-corporations, a world in which the USA has been merged into one of several massive Continental Unions and is now part of the UFA, Union of Federated Americas; Dream Hacker—in the near future, in a world of Haves versus Have-nots, impoverished young adults organize into a devastating army of computer hackers, preying on wealthy seniors, hacking into their life savings, their wills, health records, property and even their dreams.
In Timeball, Aaron Wells Kinsley, a thirty-five year old wealthy entrepreneur, with the help of a new mind technology—not yet totally perfected (and still illegal)—is able to fulfill a boyhood fantasy of pitching in the major leagues for a St. Louis team. “I must admit I felt immense disappointment when I realized I had awakened in the body of a Browns player and not one of my beloved Cardinals.”
For one year he will be Browns pitcher Albert Hollingsworth…but his “mind, spirit, soul is that of a twenty-first century time traveler Aaron Wells Kinsley.” Aaron selected 1944 because players then “were smaller, slower” and “nearly all the stars of the game were defending our country at war.”
Incidentally, and a delight to most readers and certainly to fans, Albert Hollingsworth and the other players in the book are real, as are the ball parks and even the games themselves. Professional players are still ordinary people. Albert is salaried at a refreshing $197.95 a week.
Aaron Kinsley of course must “pretend” to be Albert Hollingsworth. That includes attending meetings of a covert German cult—run by “Himmler’s own henchwomen”—determined to destroy America and its president. Aaron-now-Albert would like to destroy the Nazi organization but a strict condition of mind travel is that it is “Not to take any risk of potentially altering history….”
Aaron-now-Albert is attracted to a barmaid named Bonnie, “a very attractive and athletic-looking blonde” who “has a thing for ballplayers.” But it turns out Albert already has a friend, Annie, “a petite red-headed female wearing way too much eye makeup.” Our hero does not recognize her and he realizes that “Hollingsworth has a past that I have yet to uncover and it appears that his past is now my present.” He tells Annie, who has been waiting at his door, “I do remember your face but I can’t recall your name.” Annie informs him that they have had a “strong physical relationship for a couple of years now….and for your information my name is Annie Buster, from Chicago, thank you very much.” Our hero introduces Annie to sexual pleasures that women rarely experienced in the 40s. “I… Jesus, Al…what are you doing?”
Our hero does become a successful pitcher. I liked the banter between players, and the games and trips in those far more innocent times. Aaron-now- Albert loves the mid-forties: “This is a wonderful time to be alive. People are more open, honest, and direct than in the year 2020. Life is simple. You work, you play, and occasionally you pray. People are proud of their work and their contribution to their city state and country.”
(Krakoff will be the featured writer at the Meet the Writer Luncheon at Oasis Cloud Café on September 24. Further information at email@example.com or 765-3516. Timeball is available at Diane Pearl’s Colecciones and at Amazon and in various electronic forms including Kindle.)