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Book Review: The Longest Walk by Kirk Marty

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Author Kirk Marty’s first novel, The Longest Walk, is an independently published book, but it reads like the work of a seasoned veteran. Marty’s highly creative and compelling tale offers a rich tapestry of the history, legend and lore that made baseball a beloved sporting pastime and an American icon.

The author has a passion for the institution and he has clearly done his research. But it’s not the book’s meticulously told history, behind the scenes insights into minor league life and intriguing trivia that make this book stand out. Rather, it’s Marty’s ability to capture baseball’s mercurial magic and almost spiritual quality that makes The Longest Walk a special story. And the magic that Marty conjures is powerful stuff!

Kirk Marty’s writing acumen, knack for storytelling, and active imagination make wonderful creative collaborators. In some respects the storyline of The Longest Walk seems familiar. It is. But unexpected twists and deviations from the familiar very quickly begin to pique the reader’s interest and draw them into the uncharted waters of the author’s tale. The finely drawn characters populating the book make the reader eager to follow them throughout the story.

Without giving too much away, the book’s central character, Don Olgilvie, an alcoholic minor league coach with an intellectual bent, makes a deal with the devil to trade his life for the life of his unlikely best friend, the terminally ill seven-year-old son of one of his players. Once the deal is done, the action on the book’s pages and on the field at the mysterious Limbotown ball park begins. To close the deal, Olgilvie has to put together a team of dead Hall of Famers and beat an opposing team fielded by the colorful and charismatic Death Personified. An appealing side story is that of the coach’s new, dead love interest.

An intellectual attribute of the book on a higher level is the commentary it offers on the impact of the integration of the sport. Marty uses the assemblage of dead Hall of Famers, who are both multi-racial and multi-generational, to frame the issue. Collectively the team provides a microcosmical perspective on the perpetuation of race inequities in our society throughout the twentieth century.

Kirk Marty is the pen name for Kirk Grossman, an attorney and dedicated Dodger fan. The Longest Walk will lead many readers to wonder why we haven’t heard from Marty before now. Clever, fun and seriously relevant, this is an out-of-the-park, out of this world, first novel.

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