By Mick Cochrane
(Thomas Dunne Books, Hardcover, 9780312269944, 256pp.)
Publication Date: January 2001
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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Mick Cochrane follows up his critically acclaimed debut novel, Flesh Wounds, with Sport, the story of a boy's search for order and belonging in a world where the rules keep changing.
It is 1967. Harlan Hawkins is a wise and wily kid with a passion for baseball. He plays first base on his summer league team, obsessively collects baseball cards, and avidly follows the fortunes of his beloved hometown Minnesota Twins. And then his world is suddenly, inexplicably shaken when his mother is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and his hard-drinking, explosive father abandons them. The Hawkins family quickly descends into a kind of awkward struggle for survival, for love and safety, for belonging and self-knowledge, through a series of adventures that are sometimes terrifying, sometimes funny, often both.
At the center of Sport is the boy's mother, shrewdly, crankily intelligent, full of defiant wisecracks and bitter wisdom, driven by her fierce love for her son. She introduces him to the pleasures of dangerous fun and implores him to swing from the heels and hit away, to make his mistakes loud and large.
Harlan is cautiously befriended by George Walker, his baseball coach and neighbor, who does what he can to bring a measure of stability to the boy's life. And when Mr. Walker offers him what looks like a way out, the boy must take stock of what he's learned and make a decision regarding who he is and where he belongs.
Sport is about the tension between two worlds: the world as we wish it to be and the world as it is-- frail and broken, dangerous and doomed, terrible and beautiful. Sport is about learning to love the broken world.
Mick Cochrane is a native of St. Paul, Minnesota. His first novel, Flesh Wounds, was named a finalist in Barnes and Noble's Discover Great New Writers Competition. He teaches at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York.
"Some people should never get married, and when they do, it generally makes for a good story. Mick Cochrane knows this, bless him, and the broken family he gives us in his new novel, Sport, yields both familiar and fresh heartbreak in generous portions. It's also a very funny book."--Richard Russo, author of Nobody's Fool and Straight Man
"Harlan 'Sport' Hawkins is a boy whose love for baseball and innate sense of goodness fuel an American Dream while he lives in a household that is anything but. A modern-day Huck Finn-- honest, faithful, and wise beyond his years-- Sport will steal your heart only to break and reassemble it in a way you'll never forget. Mick Cochrane is a writer of immense talent and Sport is a grand slam."--Jill McCorkle, author of The Cheerleader and Carolina Moon
"What I can tell you about Sport is that it is damn wonderful. There isn't a line in it that doesn't shimmer with truth. Sport teaches us, broadens us, pushes our horizons back and allows us to take in what our hearts already know but won't often admit-- that there is human misery behind every door, all of it unique, all of it deserving of our care and compassion and understanding. Cochrane writes with a sympathetic but unsparing eye and in a style that is economical, energetic, and brilliantly luminous. The characters jump off the page, fully realized and unforgettable. What the hell more can a reader ask of a book."--Duff Brenna, author of Too Cool and The Book of Mamie