I’m only a few stories into Adam Gallari’s collection, but I already know that I love it. The stories remind me of Michael Chabon’s writing about baseball, in particular his story “Spikes” (Werewolves In Their Youth), in which, I think, Chabon writes that from the outfield one can see before him “the curvature of the earth.” Or maybe Wallace wrote that about his former ball-playing narrator in “Good Old Neon” (Oblivion). I’m not sure. I will probably re-visit “Spikes” and “Good Old Neon” when I finish We Are Never As Beautiful As We Are Now because it’s put me on a bit of a baseball kick. It’s got me thinking about my playing days, and about the nature of playing, itself. The book, at its core, appears to be about modern masculinity (a topic Chabon directly tackled with last year’s excellent Manhood For Amateurs). My favorite story may be the collection’s first, which takes place, for the most part, on a bench in a minor league stadium’s bullpen. It’s the first story I’ve ever read that takes place on a bench in a minor league stadium’s bullpen. It has great reflections on baseball, and what a man needs in the woman he loves. In the case of the main character, Frank, he needs someone who doesn’t understand his livelihood, baseball. He needs distance from the sport and he finds it, as well as love, in Lenina. Or does he? As the story goes on, we learn that Frank hasn’t been called in to pitch for quite some time. All that time on the bullpen’s bench has gotten him stuck in his head, doubting his feelings for Lenina, re-assessing his talent, and thinking that his life won’t get any more beautiful (i.e., better) than it is at that precise moment. That titular future-fearful sentiment isn’t just another example of “vaguely titled fiction,” it’s a scarily real and relatable feeling that runs through each of the five stories I’ve read so far.
- Meet Adam Gallari.