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The Cuban Prospect
by Brian Shawver

Overview - With compassionate intensity and great heart, Brian Shawver, in his powerful debut novel, tells the story of Dennis Birch, a 34-year old failed major league ball player turned minor league scout whose field of dreams has always been baseball. No longer a candidate for baseball greatness himself-if he ever was-Dennis accepts the challenge of smuggling a hot right-handed pitcher out of Cuba in the hope that promoting the greatness of another will somehow confer a small, manageable portion of it on himself.  Read more...

 
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More About The Cuban Prospect by Brian Shawver
 
 
 
Overview
With compassionate intensity and great heart, Brian Shawver, in his powerful debut novel, tells the story of Dennis Birch, a 34-year old failed major league ball player turned minor league scout whose field of dreams has always been baseball. No longer a candidate for baseball greatness himself-if he ever was-Dennis accepts the challenge of smuggling a hot right-handed pitcher out of Cuba in the hope that promoting the greatness of another will somehow confer a small, manageable portion of it on himself.
Birch's innocent belief in the rightness of his mission blinds him to some of the realities of it, and what seems at first to be a straight road to glory and his name on a plaque in Cooperstown, leads him into dangerous, sordid, and morally complex waters. As becomes excruciatingly clear, Fidel Castro's Cuba is much further from the Florida Keys than the miles marked on a map.
A novel of last-ditch hopes, destiny's curve balls, and quiet redemption, "The Cuban Prospect" gloriously projects a harrowing, yet affirming vision.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781585673445
  • ISBN-10: 1585673447
  • Publisher: Overlook Press
  • Publish Date: February 2003
  • Page Count: 275


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Books > Fiction > General

 
BookPage Reviews

When fate throws a curveball

Dennis Birch's life has taken an unsettling turn. As a Spanish-speaking baseball scout somewhere in Latin America, working for an unnamed major-league team, his future seems bleak. So when he is offered an opportunity that could be dangerous but extremely beneficial to his career, he is quick to take it. All he has to do is to fly to Cuba and help a phenomenal young pitcher named Ramon Diego Sagasta defect.

While Birch's mission seems simple enough, the environment of Castro's Cuba has a way of undoing the best ideas. Rather than the boisterous atmosphere of modern-day Havana, Birch finds himself in a small, dingy room in a small, dirty town full of suspicious people. The simple plan goes awry when Birch, in a false attempt at macho bravado, insults his young charge and receives in reply a piece of fruit hurled at fastball speed. When he awakens, he realizes that he and the young pitching phenom have literally missed the boat. Birch attempts to set things right, but as his understanding of his companion increases, he finds his priorities shifting. Things are starting to get really dangerous.

First-time novelist Brian Shawver has an easy way with language, and his descriptions can conjure up both revulsion, in the person of Charlie Dance—an obese, obscene excuse of a man who gives Birch his marching orders—and poignancy, as the narrator watches Sagasta's last meal with his family. The plotting is crisp and quick, and the surprise ending will confound most readers' expectations.

The Cuban Prospect is, ultimately, a compelling look at the human condition. It is about the ways we treat each other, both cruelly and humanely; the depths we go to and the sacrifices we are willing to make to get what we want; and how we all manage to achieve our own personal redemption.

James Neal Webb can't wait for spring training to start.

 
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