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The Curse of Carl Mays has broken out of the blogosphere and received its first newspaper review.  The review appeared Saturday in the Brattleboro (VT) Reformer, and is reprinted below.  As you will see, the reviewer is wise beyond years, and a skilled arbiter of literary talent.

BLOG NOTE:  I hadn't intended to return to book promotion so soon, but I'm working on something really unique involving an interview, and the interview questions haven't yet been returned, and my work week is looking daunting, so consider this post as something of a placeholder, stuck in there to keep the continuity.

Read the review.  And then do what it says.  If you remain unmoved to act, at a future time, I intend to do some serialization of the book in this forum.

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Camerik puts new spin on curveball aimed at '86 SeriesBRATTLEBORO
Brattleboro Reformer

Saturday, December 9

Forget shopping days until Christmas, I always count down to the date pitchers and catchers report for spring training (as of today, 67 for some teams).

To fill the baseball void until then, I turn to reading, and I've just read a book that baseball fans will appreciate -- particularly citizens of Red Sox Nation.

Howard Camerik's "The Curse of Carl Mays" is pure fun -- a novel that's been described, aptly, as a cross between "Field of Dreams" and "Back to the Future."

Camerik's novel tells the story of Pat McCarvill, a popular mayor of Boston, who grew up as a star athlete in "Southie" and stayed home to enjoy a meteoric rise in the law profession and on to politics. But he's haunted by a decision he made to abandon his once-promising baseball career before reaching the Majors.

And there's more. In the tradition of magical realism in baseball fiction (W.P. Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe" and Howard Frank Mosher's "Searching for Teddy Ballgame" are other prime examples), strange coincidences and powerful forces are at work in Camerik's novel. McCarvill shares a birthdate with the anniversary on the true baseball tragedy -- the death of Ray Chapman, by a pitch from Carl Mays. And this tragedy and Game Six of the 1986 World Series share a cosmic connection.

Hours before Game Six is to begin, McCarvill is struck on the head while playing in a charity game, but the paramedics sent to help him find themselves transported back to 1920, where they rescue Chapman instead.

Flipping back to 1986, the novel follows McCarvill as if his own life had changed, and he had made the Majors and followed a career as a journeyman pitcher. Now in the twilight of his career, his hometown team has brought him back to round out their pen, mentor young reliever Calvin Schiraldi (remember him?) and pitch them into the World Series.

At a crucial moment in Game Six, McCarvill is brought in to face Mookie Wilson. Does history change?

Read for yourself.

In setting up two lives for Pat McCarvill, the one lived and the one unlived, the reader is able to ruminate on the choices in life, and the impact one's decisions make on others. In that sense, Camerik's book is reminiscent of that holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life."

But mostly, "The Curse of Carl Mays" is just plain fun.

Camerik has drawn his characters with remarkable depth, and his plot never fails to hold interest, deftly blending its literal narrative twists with its more fanciful ones.

Perhaps the best part of "The Curse of Carl Mays" are the depictions of baseball action. Camerik's writing on the inside game -- the showdown between the pitcher and batter -- are among the best I've read. His colorful writing on the culture of locker room and the banter in the Red Sox bullpen are a joy to read.

In real life, Camerik is an attorney in Florida, whose own baseball career was limited to high school ball and Men's Senior League. But he might very well have found a new career as a novelist.

"The Curse of Carl Mays" is available through Amazon and other retail outlets. I suggest adding it to your Christmas list -- and Bill Buckner's.

Jon Potter can be reached at jpotter@reformer.com or (802) 254-2311, ext. 149.

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