Verdict: By exploring the reality of playing baseball as a metaphor for understanding how a man defines himself as an adult in the world, APPROACHING TWI-NIGHT elegantly explores the reality of reaching middle-age.
A once-promising young baseball player begins to imagine a life outside of the diamond while reconciling his relationships with his father and his colleagues.
Jonathan “Ditch” Klein has been hovering around professional baseball for almost fifteen years. He’s reaching an age where it’s getting hard to pretend he’s “young” anymore. As he rides the bus to play with the Gladden Fords team after narrowly losing out on an opportunity to be paid $20K to play for a major league team in the midst of a labor strike, Ditch begins to think about his other passion: writing. Although he loves baseball, he also loves the written word. He’s been writing a column about baseball and trying to shake his old childhood name of “Ditch” in favor of his given name John. This simple desire to become the adult he is as opposed to the fantasy man of his younger years drives the central conflict of APPROACHING TWI-NIGHT. Will John be able to claim his name and his true profession and find the acceptance from his father he feels he has always lacked?
Apple, who has years of experience writing for a variety of publications, writes beautifully. While the allure of baseball has been explored in a variety of books, not least Don DeLillo’s Underworld and Chad Harding’s The Art of Fielding, APPROACHING TWI-NIGHT distinguishes itself by sticking to the minor leagues. This is baseball as personal quest, without an emphasis on glamour or personal wealth. Although the book occasionally verges into sentimentality, especially when it concerns the relationship between John and his father, the level of detail and elegant prose makes it a worthwhile read.
By exploring the reality of playing baseball as a metaphor for understanding how a man defines himself as an adult in the world, APPROACHING TWI-NIGHT elegantly explores the reality of reaching middle-age.