Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Book Review: The Two Rogers (Angell and Kahn)

If you are a fan of Roger Kahn or Roger Angell or both – on the books shelves now are two books for you. Recycled stuff makes up a lot of both publications, but when we are talking legends like Angell and Kahn, recycled is more than okay, it is even better the second time around.

“Let Me Finish” by Roger Angell (Harcourt, $25.00, 320 pages) is the gifted author’s autobiographical essays from the “New Yorker” focused on a youth growing up in New York during the Prohibition era in the company of the his mother, a founding editor of the New Yorker, his gifted father and his famed step-father, E.B White. We are there with Angell in his memory “Here at home inside a Jane Austen novel, I passed my college weekend, carving Sunday roasts and getting the station wagon service, lacing up skates, sharing by radio the fall of Paris and the night bombings of London . . .having fallen not just in love but into a family.” And we are there with him watching Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mel Ott, through through later years and four decades at the “New Yorker” evolving into one of America’s best of the best baseball writers.

Roger Kahn’s “Into My Own” (St. Martin’s Press, $24.94, 320 pages) is a look back through 60 years in journalism. Profound, sad, witty, insightful, considered, “Into My Own” is the Brooklyn-born Roger Kahn at his very best musing on Robert Frost, Mickey Rooney, Sen. Eugene McCarthy, Jackie Robinson, Jack Dempsey and on and on.
“Each night . . .I try to look forward to morning,” Kahn concludes. “Like Robert Frost, we remember our old loves and our old poems, but most of the time we look ahead. Now in my eighth decade, I continue to follow the great creed of intellectuality with Brahms and Shakespeare and Milton’s mighty line. But still, too, I relish thieves, gypsies, and, lest I forget, ballplayers.” Kahn’s newest belongs in a prominent place of your sports bookshelf!

HIGHLY NOTABLE: “Casting a Spell” by George Black (Random House, $23.95, 244 pages) is a love of a book tracing as it does about 150 years of American culture with a specific focus on the obsessive (for many) world of fly fishing. We are there with author Black in the remote Maine trout stream, in backwoods China, in all kinds of unique places. Black first picked up a fly rod when he was past 40 – and the Scotsman can claim to have never pout the rod down – willingly ever since. Thnis is a book you will not be able to put down – willingly.

Also from Random House is “Touchdown 2006” by Andy Benoit (Ballantine, $15. 95, 186 pages) a primer on the coming NFL season. The author, a college soph, has self-published the guide since he was eleven years old.

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