|FINALIST - 2013 ForeWord Book of the Year in the Literary Category
FINALIST - 2013 CASEY Award, presented by Spitball: The Literary Baseball Magazine
His major league baseball dreams dashed, a former pitcher returns home to make a life or death family decision.
Going the Distance is a baseball novel with a difference; a multilayered love story, a celebration of both America’s game and the New York landscape. John “Jack” Flynn was a major league pitcher with all-star promise. But on the day of the 1979 All-Star game, he finds himself back in the North Country of New York where he was born, his career cut short by an injury, no recollection as to how he came to be back there with a beautiful woman he doesn’t recognize beside him in the passenger seat of his car. The mystery of this passenger is but the first of many mysteries in this richly poetic, deeply moving, and sometimes comic novel.
Flynn faces losses much greater than the end of an athletic career. In a journey both to recover his past and to find a place and time to begin life anew, he faces perhaps the most difficult decision a human being must make. In the process he garners support from a band of magical characters: a mystical girl who tells fortunes with baseball cards; a onetime “bird dog” baseball scout who dresses in a hazmat body suit to avoid polluting himself with human contact; a former teammate, a homerun hitter and juju man who comes to the rescue from the sky; and, most of all, that woman beside Flynn who teaches him how to love again, or perhaps for the first time.
“…[a] marvelous tour de force … Although it is interested in broader ideas, the book surely succeeds amply as baseball fiction.” — Nine
“What is fascinating about Going the Distance is that Joyce is resisting a simple opposition between statistics and poetry, between life as a professional athlete and life after the game.” — Electronic Book Review
“…the sheer power and talent of Joyce’s ambitious project deserves recognition … This is not a breezy confection, but a dense, engaging, and poetic psychological journey … Joyce has crafted a truly inventive, fabulously written work of fiction, and Going the Distance belongs on any list of upper-echelon baseball novels.” — Spitball
“Dig deep into this experimental novel, and discover the pleasure of strategically implemented phrases and words … Those who savor the exploratory, as opposed to the traditional, approach to narrative will discover a feast in Joyce’s writing. His messages are like hidden spices in an unusual dish … This latest novel of his will delight not only fans of baseball but also fans of the great American love story.” — ForeWord Reviews
“Going the Distance is a deftly written, intelligent, articulate, involved and involving novel that acquires the reader’s total attention from beginning to end. Populated with memorable characters and unexpected story twists and turns, Going the Distance is a rewarding read.” — Midwest Book Review
“I read it in two huge gulps, which should tell you something. I think it’s terrific, moves, moves me, and I love it! Flynn and Emma are marvelously there, and everyone comes alive as well. I’m jealous. Poets can do lots of things, but not this!” — Joel Oppenheimer, author of The Wrong Season
“A fever dream about how the past, one’s homeland, and the national pastime can beguile and bewitch the best of us.” — Tim Wendel, author of Castro’s Curveball and Summer of ’68: The Season That Changed Baseball—and America—Forever
Michael Joyce is Professor of English and Media Studies at Vassar College. He is the author of many books, including Disappearance, Liam’s Going: A Novel, and Moral Tales and Meditations: Technological Parables and Refractions, also published by SUNY Press. He lives along the Hudson River near Poughkeepsie, New York.