Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I am about halfway done with Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker, a really nice book that is not at all what I expected.
I had read Mint Condition last year, a great read focusing on a middle-aged narrator who reconsiders his long lost love - baseball cards. And in that book, he analyzes how the industry began, and where it's been - including a fascinating focus (for me) on the last 20 years of the hobby. I found it fascinating, and figured Cardboard Gods would be more of the same.
I was wrong.
Cardboard Gods is fascinating, but for wholly different reasons. I should have recognized the allusion to Augusten Burroughs or Dave Eggers on the back cover - two writers who produced captivating memoirs. That's what Cardboard Gods does - and quite brilliantly, once you are used to it. Wilker uses each baseball card as a vehicle for a vignette about his childhood, telling memorable stories - often painful - that he is reminded of by the card. He connects to each card - laughing at one, crying at the pain recalled by another. He fills page after page with evocative experiences that each stay with you for awhile.
It is truly the study of a boy and of a time - and well worth reading.