Book Review: Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
Ray Kinsella narrates the story Shoeless Joe (Kinsella, 1999). It’s set in a quiet farm in Iowa, where Kinsella’s support team were his wife as well as his daughter, Karin. Somehow, part of this support group is his father (even though he they were estranged most the novel), Johnny Kinsella, who introduced to him the love he has and was so compelled to write about – baseball. His love for this sport carried him out into such a play on fantasy, and led him to do the things which he did. His feelings and emotions towards the sport were in a way religious, and this was embodied by his actions. The story was a mix of fantasy and facts; with the backbone of baseball, specifically a sporting icon – Joe Jackson – who was a controversial player during his time, allegedly throwing a World Series game for a sum of money. However, the most dominant of Kinsella’s support group would have to be his wife, Annie. She was loving and very much an optimist. Had she not been as understanding as she was, Kinsella would not have been able to accomplish what he had – and there would have been no story! Karin was very much like her father (Kinsella, 1999). She showed much support in her tender age of five years old in being a dreamer just like Kinsella; however, she shows some of her mother’s nature of being practical, being the balance for the both of them. Overall, Kinsella had four main support systems in the story.
Ray Kinsella was a dreamer and an optimist. He wanted to do something and he made sure he did it. Not only that, he seemed to believe the best in people, and sought his struggles through. His love for baseball took his fantasy to new heights and made them into reality. This obsession made him dream bigger and expect bigger things. Kinsella was a loving man who cared much for his family and their overall happiness (Kinsella, 1999). This was most probably why they reciprocated this love well, even in times when Kinsella thought of doing something which was not as practical as what most would do. He took one simple instruction, from a voice he was sure he heard and was of solid meaning and he did it. This type of character shows optimism. His type of personality differed from the writer, J.D. Salinger because he was someone who saw good in people, and good in situations. Salinger was very much a pessimist. He was not happy with his fame, and he was just someone who seemed down (Kinsella, 1999). However, the similarity he shares with Kinsella was so strong that they made a connection in the story. This similarity was their obsession with baseball. Even though Kinsella had conflicting voices in his head and in his dreams, he manages to stay positive and stick to what he knew and what he wanted. The two also differ in their expression for their love of baseball. Kinsella shows this through his dreams and his pursuit in building a baseball field, whilst Salinger does this through his writing. Both fanatics are, however, seen as highly imaginative, yet they show this characteristic in different ways.
I believe that listening to your inner voice is important. Kinsella had a dream, not only in the physical, scientific meaning of the concept, but something deeper than that. He had something within him which he wanted to express and release; this happened to embody itself in a dream and he heard it through voices. Doing this in real life is important because if you suppress that voice, you may be holding back from doing something you are very passionate about. Most people might be too scared to step up and pursue that dream or goal they have in life. However, Kinsella’s story shows that no matter how surreal something may seem at the start, once you begin working on it, it will start to embody and become reality.
Kinsella, W.P. (1999), Shoeless Joe, Fayetteville: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt