Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book of the Month, October 2011

I love books. They're fun, educational, and without them 85 percent of movies wouldn't be made.

Case in point, "Moneyball," an adaptation that fought an uphill battle from the start: How can you make a movie about a statistics-driven business model? Bennett Miller tried, but by making the movie more about A's GM Billy Beane than his methods, he watered down what made Michael Lewis's book so special.

So, what baseball book should be made into a movie? How about Jane Leavy's "The Lost Boy," her superlative biography of Mickey Mantle. The best aspect of her book is that Leavy paints a full, vivid portrait of Mantle as a legendeary athlete and as a flawed person.

What's tragic about Mantle--and why his story is tailor-made for the big screen--is that he succumbed to the cult of personality. Post-baseball, Mantle became an aw-shucks, hard-drinking bullshitter, which is what the fans wanted and what made him profitable. It was an arrangement that ultimately cost him his life, and what defines Leavy's effort as so much more than a "sports book."

That's it for now. Until next month, read in peace.

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