Bang the Drum Slowly, by Mark Harris is a type of sequel to The Southpaw, following the lives of fictional baseball player Henry Wiggen and his friend and teammate, Bruce Pearson. More than a novel about baseball, Bang the Drum Slowly follows the team, the New York Mammoths, as the group slowly learns one of their teammates is dying of cancer. While the baseball team is good, it is obvious that it lacks team unity. With the knowledge of a teammate's illness, they band together in an attempt to win the World Series. According to Charles Poore of The New York Times, 1956, " In its elementals, Bang the Drum Slowly has two familiar themes. One is the story of the way a doomed man may spend his last best year on earth. The other is the story of how a quarrelsome group of raucous individualists is welded into an effective combat outfit."
I am excited about this book for several reasons:
- It is fictional, which allows for more literary freedom and a type of romanticism that non-fiction usually cannot allow due to being a servant to history
- It is highly acclaimed, being called at the time "the finest baseball novel that has appeared since we all began to compare baseball novels with the works of Ring Lardner, Douglass Wallop and Heywood Broun," (Poore, 2) (Wallup, you might remember, penned The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant)
- It was made into a movie starring Robert De Niro and Michael Moriarty in 1973 that was given four stars and called "the ultimate baseball movie" by Roger Ebert (Ebert, 1)
Don't have the book yet? Here are some reviews and excerpts to get you started!