Book Review: 'The Man With Two Arms' Alan Cheuse reviews The Man with Two Arms by Billy Lombardo, a novel about a baseball pitcher who can throw both right- and left-handed.
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Book Review: 'The Man With Two Arms'

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Book Review: 'The Man With Two Arms'

Book Review: 'The Man With Two Arms'

Book Review: 'The Man With Two Arms'

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Alan Cheuse reviews The Man with Two Arms by Billy Lombardo, a novel about a baseball pitcher who can throw both right- and left-handed.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

The 2010 baseball season has begun and our book reviewer, Alan Cheuse, has found what he considers the first fine baseball novel of the season. It's called "The Man With Two Arms," and it's written by Chicago writer and teacher Billy Lombardo.

ALAN CHEUSE: The man of the title is Danny Granville. He comes from Chicagoland and he has two golden arms. His baseball-crazed father, Henry, raises him from infancy to play ball, and specifically to pitch both left-handed and right-handed. With coaches' thoughts in his head and Astroturf in his basement, father Henry cultivates a champion, a switch-pitcher who grows up to be a beautifully trained athlete with a great talent for baseball.

Through high school and college we watch Danny grow, and when he hits the majors playing for the Cubs, his first season looks as though it's going to be a triumph. Danny is something like a natural and his game-obsessed father does everything he can to enhance his son's natural abilities.

From the boy's first year on, the father directs him steadily and scientifically toward balance. As Danny's art student girlfriend Brigit discovers when she gets him to undress in preparation for posing for her that early propensity for balance has produced in the ballplayer an anatomical symmetry close to perfection.

It seems perfectly appropriate that Danny begins his major league career by pitching several games as close to perfect as it gets when the pitcher bows out in a late inning.

Lombardo's one-of-a-kind novel about a one-of-a-kind ballplayer is just as engrossing as a perfect game going into the late innings. If you're in the stands, you don't want to look away from the field, let alone leave the stadium early. Those who love to read about this great pastime will have this same feeling when reading about Danny Granville, on and off the field.

NORRIS: The novel is "The Man with Two Arms by Billy Lombardo. Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, teaches writing at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

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