(1935-2016) Canadian writer whose first stories, beginning with Dance Me Outside (coll 1977) deal with Native Canadians, centring on the figure of Silas Ermineskin. He remains best-known, however, for his Baseball fantasies, the most famous being Shoeless Joe (1982 US), expanded from the title story of Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa (coll 1980) and filmed as Field of Dreams (1989). The novel differs from the movie mainly in the presence of a fictionalized J D Salinger (1919-2010), whose longing for happiness is rewarded when he accompanies the Ghost baseball players to enter some sort of Afterlife; the analogous figure in the movie is called Terence Mann. The Iowa Baseball Confederacy (1986 US) sends its baseball-haunted protagonists by Timeslip to the turn of the century, where they participate in an exhibition game which lasts 40 days and 40 nights while around them the world becomes more and more phantasmagoric. Short stories with fantasy content – usually concerning baseball – are assembled in The Thrill of the Grass (coll 1984) and The Further Adventures of Slugger McBatt: Baseball Stories (coll 1988). Red Wolf, Red Wolf (coll 1987) assembles stories about neither Native Canadians nor baseball.
It is hard to judge how significant it is that WPK, a Canadian, has so intensely embraced and recreated the Theodicy-choked myth of US baseball; perhaps outsiders have an edge in longing. [JC]
other works: The Dixon Cornbelt League and Other Baseball Stories (coll 1993); The Winter Helen Dropped By (1995), possibly only associational.
William Patrick Kinsella