Reader’s Notebook, 7/30/19

I Love You, Michael Collins – Lauren Baratz-Logsted
This is the second book that L has read for her book club that I’ve gotten sucked into. It is a wonderful book.

It is written as a series of letters from 10-year-old Mamie in Connecticut to the sometimes forgotten member of the Apollo 11 crew. Her letters begin in the school year and stretch through the first moon landing, sharing progressively more about her life and her family’s slow and somewhat shocking unraveling. Like Collins, she is left behind to command the ship while others go off on adventures. The book is charming, funny, sad, and then up-lifting. L said it is one of her favorite books she’s ever read.

As I read it and reached the section where Mamie is alone – her parents and sisters have departed all thinking another is taking care of her – I had to connect that to my life when I was 10. It was actually when I was nine that I began staying by myself at night. Fixing my own dinners. Following some carefully laid out rules from my mom to keep her mind at ease. It was a big but necessary ask. But I also knew my mother was coming home every night where Mamie wasn’t really sure when her family would return. And by 1980 latchkey kids were normal, where in 1969 a kid staying by themselves was cause for concern.


Ten Innings at Wrigley – Kevin Cook
This had the potential to be a fine baseball read. It centers on the game between Philadelphia and Chicago on May 17, 1979, a legendary 23-22 Phillies win. It is subtitled “The Wildest Ballgame Game Ever, With Baseball On The Brink,” which led me to believe Cook would use this as a jumping-off point for exploring the massive changes that were taking place in baseball.

Sadly most of the book is a rather by-the-numbers accounting of the game. There’s a post-game section that looks at where some of the game’s key players – notably Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Dave Kingman, Tug McGraw, Bob Boone, Bill Buckner, and Donnie Moore – traveled over the rest of their careers and lives. There are bits about each franchise eventually got their elusive World Series title. But unlike my all-time favorite baseball book, Daniel Okrent’s Nine Innings, Cook isn’t nearly as ambitious in taking this one, notable game and using it to explain more. At least it was a quick read.