The Opposite Field: A Memoir by Jesse Katz
The Opposite Field: A Memoir by Jesse Katz
Description of The Opposite Field: A Memoir by Jesse Katz
Here is one of the most remarkable, ambitious, and utterly original memoirs of this generation, a story of the losing and finding of self, of sex and love and fatherhood and the joy of language, of death and failure and heartbreak, of Los Angeles and Portland and Nicaragua and Mexico, and the shifting sands of place and meaning that can make up a culture, or a community, or a home.
Faced with the collapse of his son’s Little League program–consisting mostly of Latino kids in the largely Asian suburb of Monterey Park, California–Jesse Katz finds himself thrust into the role of baseball commissioner for La Loma Park. Under its lights the yearnings and conflicts of a complex immigrant community are played out amid surprising moments of grace. Each day–and night–becomes a test of Jesse’s judgment and adaptability, and of his capacity to make this peculiar pocket of L.A.’s Eastside his home.
While Jesse soothes egos, brokers disputes, chases down delinquent coaches and missing equipment, and applies popsicles to bruises, he forms unlikely alliances, commits unanticipated errors, and receives the gift of unexpected wisdom. But there’s no less drama in Jesse’s complicated personal life as he grapples with a stepson who seems destined for trouble, comforts his mother (a legendary Oregon politician) when she’s stricken with cancer, and receives hard lessons in finding–and holding on to–the love of a good woman.
Through it all, Jesse’s emotional mainstay is his beloved son, Max, who quietly bests his father’s brightest hopes. Over nine springs and summers with Max at La Loma, Jesse learns nothing less than what it takes to be a father, a son, a husband, a coach, and, ultimately, a man.
This is an epic book, a funny book, a sexy book, a rapturously evocative and achingly poignant book. Above all it is true, in that it happened, but also in a way that transcends mere facts and cuts to the quick of what it means to be alive.
From the Hardcover edition.
Amazon Exclusive: Rick Bragg Reviews The Opposite Field
Rick Bragg is the author of the bestselling All Over but the Shoutin', a New York Times notable book of the year, as well as The Prince of Frogtown and Ava's Man, both memoirs. A Pulitzer Prize-winning national correspondent for the New York Times, Bragg is also the author of Somebody Told Me, a critically acclaimed collection of his newspaper stories. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of The Opposite Field:
In one shimmering paragraph in the memoir Opposite Field, you almost begin to believe that award-winning writer Jesse Katz might be the luckiest man on earth.
In it, he stands looking across a little league baseball complex in Monterey Park, a million gray parking lots from Hollywood, from the Pacific. But these fields are his oasis. Even the name is lovely: La Loma. Here, he will coach his own son, his prodigy, year after year.
"It was a natural stadium, geologically perfect... the homerun fence curling through a wall of green. The effect was at once lush and windswept.. you could stand here and watch... five-year-olds lost in clover at this corner, ten-year-olds spitting seeds at the other, fifteen-year-olds brandishing metal spikes... I would guide Max through that circuit... in this one extraordinary park, I would see him grow into a young man."
And that is where the perfection ends. Life, love, fatherhood, and baseball, come flying at him spikes high and gouge him straight through the heart--and sometimes the groin.
He tells it all in a rich story that is in places warm and in others raw, where a stepson almost dies from a gunshot to his face, and the special man in a beloved’s life is somebody else. The baseball is almost an antidote to life here, where, after one spirit-numbing loss, the coach raises the lid on a cooler filled with water balloons.
And if you love the game you will love it displayed here, a sweet, sad, poignant and sometimes hysterical drama in the dirt, a world where coaches plot, scheme and go on meth binges, outfielders with medical conditions twitch from the sparse grass, and monogrammed Louisville Sluggers splinter on the first pitch.
But it is also an unflinching story written by a great writer about failed marriage, and not some small amount of hanky panky. It is a wrenching story of a son who watches a strong mother battle cancer to a stand-still. And, through it all, it is a story of a father who watches his son shift and change in delightful and heart-searing ways, hoping that his decisions do more good than harm, hoping that at the end of the day his son will know... what? That his father loves him above all things.
This is not a pat story, not a neat one. People are not that way.
It is much better than that.
Here, you learn that not getting the girl is not so cruel, that growing older with disappointment and doubt and fear is not so bad--as long as your boy hits .620, and throws a curve ball that drops off the edge of the world.--Rick Bragg