When Bill Meissner’s collection of short stories Hitting into the Wind was published in 1994, it was called “a quiet masterpiece of baseball writing” by the Greensboro, North Carolina, News and Record. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer said, “Bill Meissner captures baseball with all its crystalline beauty-the remarkable reverberation of time and space and character.” And The New York Times Book Review said, “Just about every tale here recalls those precious years when a chance to play in the majors was all a boy could ask from life.”
Now, in his first novel, Bill Meissner again uses baseball as a window to his characters. In Spirits in the Grass, we meet Luke Tanner, a thirty-something ball player helping to build a new baseball field in his beloved hometown of Clearwater, Wisconsin. Luke looks forward to trying out for the local amateur team as soon as possible. His chance discovery of a small bone fragment on the field sets in motion a series of events and discoveries that will involve his neighbors, local politicians, and the nearby Native American reservation. Luke’s life, most of all, will be transformed. His growing obsession with the ball field and what’s beneath it threatens his still fragile relationship with his partner, Louise, and challenges Luke’s assumptions about everyone, especially himself.
Spirits in the Grass rings true with small-town Midwestern values. The characters, including Luke’s independent partner Louise, grapple with their passion and their identities. In this beautiful and haunting novel, baseball serves as a metaphor for life itself, with its losses and defeats, its glories and triumphs.
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