Shoeless Joe

What would inspire a widowed woman, born in the UK and living in Australia, to pick up a baseball story? I suppose in some ways, you are waiting for the punchline. Sounds like a joke, right? It’s not. Let me tell you why.

My late husband loved the movie Field of Dreams.  I say “loved” but I would probably change that to read “completely addicted” to the movie. He loved it. We owned it on DVD and then Blu-Ray. When it was on TV, you could hear a pin drop in the house as he focused on the screen. Then I lost him. My soulmate was no longer with me and while movies, music and words can bring beautiful memories, this film tugged at the heartstrings. I could not watch it anymore.

Roll forward two years to when Dyersville, Iowa and the Field of Dreams movie set hosted a game. I stumbled on the footage completely by accident but watched transfixed as Kevin Costner and the players walked out through the corn, just like the movie. I watched the game. Then I went onto the streaming service I have and watched the movie again.  Suddenly, I got it, I realized why my husband loved the movie so much.

It was then I found this book. Usually when I see a movie I like, I check out Amazon to see if there is an attached book. Field of Dreams was no different and Shoeless Joe was presented to me on amazon’s page. I clicked purchase and started reading immediately.

I had no idea what to expect, but I was not disappointed. I was introduced to Ray Kinsella who is our protagonist in the tale. A man who needs his family to help anchor his life. A man who really isn’t overly sure of what he wants or where he needs to be, apart from with his wife Annie and his daughter Karin.  

“If you build it, he will come” is one of the most famous quotes from the movie and is delivered by an unseen baseball announcer to our hero while he is out on his farm.

W.P. Kinsella’s writing is incredibly visceral in nature. It touches all your senses as you read. Before you realise it, you can feel the grass and dirt under your feet. You can smell the worn leather of a baseball glove. You can feel the warmth from the lights in the stadium, and barely make out Shoeless Joe as he walks toward you from that door by the cornfield.  W.P. Kinsella gifts that to you, his reader, with his words on the 224 pages he has written.

The book hands you a few extra parts that the Field of dreams movie doesn’t and that’s what makes it so special.  Where the movie might have you imagining something, Mr. Kinsella hands it to you through his written words, leaving you to enjoy the moment for what it truly is.

It is a heart-warming family tale involving America’s pastime. It is an odyssey of one man’s vision to turn his cornfield into a baseball diamond, even though financially it is not viable. The baseball diamond is a gift to Shoeless Joe and the team. It is a gift to the state of Iowa as “people will come Ray, people will come”, and of course, come they do.