The Crowd Sounds Happy
A Story of Love, Madness, and Baseball
By Nicholas Dawidoff
(Pantheon, Hardcover, 9780375400285, 288pp.)
Publication Date: May 6, 2008
List Price: $24.95*
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From the author of the best-selling The Catcher Was a Spy, his most original work yet: a memoir of two cities (New Haven and New York), a family (troubled), a time (the 1970s), a boy who never quite fits in anywhere--and how baseball helps him find his place in America.
The Crowd Sounds Happy is the story of a spirited boy's coming-of-age in a doomed hometown, with a missing father, a single mother, and the professional ballplayers who gradually become the men in his life as he listens to them every night on the bedside radio. This is a childhood shaped by remarkable characters, foremost Nicholas Dawidoff's mother, a stoical, overwhelmed, enterprising woman committed to securing a more promising future for her children. It also tells, with the same arresting candor of Dawidoff's celebrated New Yorker magazine memoir of his father, what it's like to grow up with a disturbed, dangerous parent. Here are the events and places that come to define a young boy's outlook: a local playground, a kidnapping and a murder, rock 'n' roll, the steamy awkwardness of adolescence and first love, and the private world of baseball--the inner game as it has never been described before.
The Crowd Sounds Happy is a beautifully written, moving piece of personal history that transforms ordinary moments into literature.
Nicholas Dawidoff is the author of three previous books. The Fly Swatter was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and In the Country of Country was named one of the greatest all-time works of travel literature by Conde Nast Traveler. He is also the editor of the Library of America’s Baseball: A Literary Anthology. A Guggenheim, Civitella Ranieri and Berlin Prize Fellow, he is currently the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University.
"The Crowd Sounds Happy vividly captures the crosscurrents of a childhood at once unusually happy and unusually haunted. Dawidoff writes like an angel, and his memoir bids fair to join Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life on the short shelf of great books about American boyhood."
--Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma
"This beautiful book is like a sharp knife--painful, gleaming and utterly precise."
--Joan Acocella, author of Twenty-eight Artists and Two Saints
"A tender, exquisitely observed recollection of childhood, a failed and hurtful father, and hope."
--Alan Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams
"A father-son-baseball story like no other. Dawidoff limns the double life of adolescence so acutely that I found myself wincing at least once a paragraph. I devoured and savored this beautifully written book, even as it broke my heart."
--George Howe Colt, author of The Big House
"I've never read a memoir whose author has remained truer to his boyhood self. The young Dawidoff who loved Ted Williams, Elvis Costello, and Samuel Johnson has grown up to write like an original amalgam of all three, and the result is an intricately recollected, uncommonly frank self-portrait with something terrific on page after page."
--Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections