Underworld by Don DeLillo

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Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010

Warning: This review is a bit of a bait and switch.

Underworld is the mega-novel Don DeLillo published in 1997. At 827 pages, it covers considerable ground, including the shadow of nuclear holocaust, the Cold War, American pop culture and much more.

The novel's prologue, though, is about baseball. And it's a glorious story about baseball; it focuses on what has become known as "The Shot Heard 'Round the World," Bobby Thomson's epic home run that earned the New York Giants the 1951 National League pennant.

A new baseball season is upon us; spring training has begun. Even if you don't want to read the entire novel, read the prologue of Underworld for an incredible (fictionalized) account of what is widely regarded as one of the monumental moments in baseball history. The prologue is titled "The Triumph of Death," but in this context it's a nearly irrelevant reference, so don't let it dissuade you.

Incidentally, the prologue was published as a stand-alone novella in 2001 under the title Pafko at the Wall, a reference to Brooklyn Dodgers left fielder Andy Pafko, who had no choice but to watch helplessly as Thomson's homer rocketed out of the playing field -- and into history.

Written by John Mark E.