Kirkus book review

Big news: the first review of The Baseball is in. It was published by Kirkus, and it’s 99 percent positive. Here’s a screen shot from the website:

I don’t have an “active subscription” to Kirkus because it costs $129, so forget that. I also don’t have a hard copy (yet) of the particular issue that contains this review, so for now, you’ll have to settle for a very plain-looking version that my publisher sent me:
When I first read this review, I felt totally dissed by the line marked above with the red arrow, but now, after having talked to some publishing people, I’m seeing it differently. You know how some books are brilliantly/intellectually written — how they’re descriptive and flowery and practically poetic? Well, I’m pretty sure (or at least I’d like to think) that the reviewer simply wanted to let people know that The Baseball is not one of those books. If that’s the case, he (or she?) could’ve said it in a nicer way, but whatever. If you liked the way Watching Baseball Smarter was written, and how this blog is written, then you’ll like my new book. Same style. Fun and engaging. No big/unnecessary words. Great bathroom reading. Short sections. Easy to follow. Lots of info and wacky stories and cool photos and so on. I think The Baseball is my best book yet, and I’m curious to hear what other people think about it.
Finally, I’m legally obligated to say that this book review was reprinted courtesy of Kirkus Discoveries.



    I would have taken the sentence marked with a red arrow, the same way you did, at first. It sounds like they are bashing how the book was written. I haven’t read a book as big as “The Baseball”, in my life. (Why? Because reading isn’t my favorite thing to do.) But, I read your book in one day. That has to say something about the quality of the writing. It’s a great book. (No matter what the book review says.)


  2. zackhample

    Thanks, man, that means a lot. Reading isn’t MY favorite thing either, if you can believe it.

  3. stlfan

    “Great bathroom reading”, that line made my day, heck, my whole entire week.

    As a writer (not professional, but school paper, and hopefully a professional eventually) I would have taken that criticism harshly. You never want to be criticized for something you’ve worked so hard on, but I’m guessing the reviewer meant that your book wasn’t going to be a smooth, poetic story (which it isn’t). Whatever they meant, I’m sure it will be a great book!

  4. zackhample

    Ha, awesome, glad you liked that line. You’re right about criticism, but I don’t expect everyone to LOVE everything I do.

  5. cookandsonbats

    What I don’t like about that sentence is the word “any.” I think the reviewer very well could have intended the second meaning you assigned to the sentence: i.e., this book is not written in a “Moby Dick” or “Great Expectations” style. Or, put in baseball writing terms, it is written more like a piece by Jayson Stark and less like a piece by Howard Bryant (or like the narration from Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary). In fact, I think that is what he probably intended to convey. However, by inserting the word “any,” I think he was also injecting his judgment about your writing style. The sentence comes off a bit snobbish to me. At the end of the day, however, I bet the writing style was your choice. As in, you didn’t set out to write it in a “Moby Dick” or “Great Expectations” style and failed at doing so. Rather, you chose to write it in a Hampleque style and succeeded at doing so. That’s my two cents about this reviewer’s two cents.

  6. kslo69

    I’d say this is a great review. That comment just refers to the fact that there is no guy hearing voices in a cornfield, right?

  7. zackhample

    I appreciate your cents, and you’re right, my style is 100% intentional. I do have good news: a new review was published earlier today by Library Journal, and it’s 100% positive. Click this link –> <– and scroll halfway down the page.

    Ha, nice. Thanks.


    Hey Z,

    If it helps (though maybe you’re over it), Kirkus is NOTORIOUS for writing snarky reviews. Your review is the epitome of their favorite kind: a perfectly good write-up that stings because of one stupid toss-off remark. It’s just their way. So, you’re not alone. And congrats, btw, on the overall great reviews thus far! More TK I’m sure. Hope you had a great final day in Barabados–sooo jealous (though I was out sick yesterday so I missed the 9-degree day. Can’t say I’m sorry).


  9. zackhample

    It does help, especially coming from a publishing insider. Thanks for weighing in on this, and I hope you’re right about future reviews. I hope/expect the press to pick up next month. The last day in Barbados was brief but good. Perhaps you’ve seen my new blog entry about it by now. Sorry you’re sick. Boo to that. See you soon, perhaps. Indian food? My place?


    Zack he was just saying that your book was written like a ‘history’ book, like a telling of the history of the baseball, rather than a tale about it, like say The Last of the Mohicans was a tale about the French and Indian War, rather than a history of it with characters and dialogue and what not.

    It wasn’t an insult, merely said in the snotty way people who think they know everything about writing say things.

    Congrats Zack on the book.

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