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This is must-reading for those who care about baseball; it will help you see why you’re right that baseball matters, all the while knowing that it kind of doesn’t. Philosophy professor Kingwell softens his philosophical, literary and historical examination of the game with a most engaging personal narrative. He views baseball as theatre (a game of stillness, with sudden explosive action), as poetry (what is it but “a quest to leave home and return home safely, against all odds”), and as a pasttime rife with failure (errors, missed opportunities galore, batters failing to get hits far more often than they succeed). He makes the case that if we learn best from failure, baseball as “a game which embraces failure as its beating heart, offers significance beyond its apparent pointlessness.” Most games are not memorable, but that’s what makes those rare games, those “games for the ages” so exhilarating, just as in life, our failures make our successes sweeter. As Samuel Beckett wrote, “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” A lesson for baseball and for life. Same time next year, Tigers…— From Jeanne's Picks
Taking seriously the idea that baseball is a study in failure--a very successful batter manages a base hit in just three of every ten attempts--Mark Kingwell argues that there is no better tutor of human failure's enduring significance than this strange, crooked game of base, where geometry becomes poetry.
Weaving elements of memoir, philosophical reflection, sports writing, and humour, Fail Better is an intellectual love letter to baseball by one of North America's most engaging philosophers. Kingwell illustrates complex concepts like theoretically infinite game-space, "time out of time," and the rules of civility with accessible examples drawn from the game, its history, and his own halting efforts to hit 'em where they ain't. Beyond a "Beckett meets baseball" study in failure, Kingwell crafts a thoughtful appreciation of why sports matter, and how they change our vision of the world.
Never pretentious, always entertaining, Fail Better is set to be the homerun non-fiction title of the season.