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The Universal Baseball Association, Inc. : J. Henry Waugh, Prop. ()

Orrin's All-Time Top Ten List - Sports

Henry Waugh is a fifty-something accountant with no family, no friends & no future at work.  All he has going for him is that he is the creator & sole proprietor of the Universal Baseball Association.  Henry has invented a Stratomatic-type baseball game & taken it to the nth degree.  He has rules for virtually every possible occurrence & potential roll of the dice.  He has populated the game with players of his own creation.  These players even participate in offseason activities, like pinball tournaments, and get involved in Association politics when they retire.  There are retired players because Henry has played out over fifty UBA seasons.  Henry hasn't simply created a game, he's created a personal Universe.

The greatest player in Association history was Brock Rutherford and now his son, Damon Rutherford, is taking the UBA by storm.  Henry's enthusiasm for the Association has waned in recent years, but the rise of Damon Rutherford has renewed his interest.  Suddenly the game is fun again and Henry's life seems full & interesting.  When young Damon throws a perfect game, Henry is so caught up in the excitement that he tampers with his own rules and allows Damon to start his next game on one day of rest.  And, of course, when the Creator tampers with his own rules, his creations will pay the price.

The first 150 or so pages of this book are absolutely fabulous.  As disaster befalls the Association & Henry's life crumbles around him he loses the ability to separate reality from fantasy and the book too becomes confused, but it is still a terrific read. Indeed, think of it this way: Coover becomes Waugh as the narrative proceeds and his Creation spins out of his control.


Grade: (A-)


Robert Coover Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Robert Coover
-INTERVIEW: The Books Interview: Robert Coover (Jonathan Derbyshire, 12 May 2011, New Statesman)
    -SHORT STORY: “The Babysitter” by Robert Coover
-REVIEW: of Universal Baseball (John Thorn, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Noir By ROBERT COOVER (Paul La Farge, B&N Review)

Book-related and General Links:
    -ESSAY: Literary Hypertext: The Passing of the Golden Age (Robert Coover, FEED)
    -Featured Author: Robert Coover: With News and Reviews From the Archives of The New York Times
     -REVIEW:   The Universal Baseball Association, Inc. by Robert Coover (Ronald Sukenick, NY Review of Books)
-ESSAY: Why is Baseball the Most Literary of Sports?: Lincoln Michel Goes Deep Into the Prose of America’s Pastime (Lincoln Michel, October 28, 2021, LitHub)
    -ESSAY: The Smaller the Ball, the Better the Book: A Game Theory of Literature (George Plimpton, NY Times Book Review)

Other recommended books by Robert Coover:
    -The Origin of the Brunists
    -The Public Burning
    -Whatever Happened to Gloomy Gus of the Chicago Bears?