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Last Days of Summer
by Steve Kluger | Literature & Fiction
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 4/30/2012
Average 9 star rating by BookCrossing Members 

status (set by CorinneJean): travelling

2 journalers for this copy...

Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Wednesday, July 25, 2012

9 out of 10

I got this slightly-battered trade paperback from the Used Book Superstore. I love this book so much that I can't resist picking up yet another release copy when the price is right! And I can copy my previous journal entry, which saves a lot of time {grin}.

I'd enjoyed Kluger's earlier book, Changing Pitches, and had heard good things about this one, but even that didn't prepare me for how much I loved Last Days of Summer - what a delightful book! It's written in Kluger's trademark epistolary/scrapbook style - it's all in the form of letters, newspaper clippings, notes, and the occasional scorecard, telegram, or psychologist-session transcript - and it covers a year in the life of young Joey Margolis, who's trying to cope with being abandoned by his father (not to mention being beaten up by the kids in the Brooklyn neighborhood his mother had to move to after the breakup). This takes place in 1940-1941, and the period feel (both of the social scene and the approach of WWII) is marvelous, but it's the human interactions that make the book. Joey is a con artist extraordinaire, and has the brilliant idea of claiming friendship with a Major League baseball star as a way of keeping the neighborhood goons away from him; he writes to Charley Banks, claiming to be terminally ill and requesting a simple mention of his name at the next game, a la Babe Ruth: "This one's for Joey Margolis". Charley isn't buying it - "Last week it was the plague. Now it's malaria. What do I look - stupid to you?" - but somehow they strike up a correspondance and then a friendship.

How all this comes about is hilariously funny, punctuated with back-chat from Joey, his teachers, family, and friends, and as Charley gets more involved in the boy's life his own teammates and girlfriend chime in too. And there are so many delightful surprises - one of Joey's book reports, for example, in which he starts off saying how much he dislikes the (rather juvenile-sounding) book he's been assigned, and segues from "only a grownup who is screwy would let a kid get in trouble with crooks" to comparing the book to Mein Kampf; right after this there's a note from the principal mentioning that Joey's teacher has taken a sudden leave of absence, for which we can hardly blame her. Later on, Charley Banks has been coerced into helping Joey with some homework, and at one point suggests in a note to the principal, "Why don't you give him 'Withering Heights'? At least Heathcliff knew how to kick some ass." And in one of the report cards, Joey's teacher notes "For no just cause he has developed a particularly toxic loathing for Emily Brontë, a self-possessed and taciturn woman whom he is convinced was covertly working for a foreign government. (I suppose it serves her right for keeping the umlaut.)"

That doesn't convey the full flavor of all the exchanges here; to do that properly I'd have to quote the whole thing. It feels a lot like one of the better screwball-comedy films of the '30s, with outrageous stunts and heartwarming scenes that generally finish with a wicked quip. (Oh, and at some point you will need Kleenex. Trust me on this.) Very funny, very sweet, one of my favorite books.

[Kluger's book Almost Like Being in Love is also a wonderful read. Heck, just get anything the guy writes - I plan to!] 

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Fenway Park, 4 Yawkey Way in Boston, Massachusetts USA on Sunday, July 29, 2012

This book has not been rated.

Released 5 yrs ago (7/30/2012 UTC) at Fenway Park, 4 Yawkey Way in Boston, Massachusetts USA


I plan to leave this book somewhere in or near Fenway Park on my way to a Red Sox game. [If the crowds and/or security make in-the-park releases unwise, I'll look for a bench or statue in the general area.] Hope the finder enjoys the book!  

Journal Entry 3 by CorinneJean at Boston, Massachusetts USA on Saturday, September 29, 2012

9 out of 10

Found the book at Fenway Park, couldn't just leave a book behind. Just finished it this morning. A differant kind of read but I really enjoyed it.Hope I find another book sometime. Not sure here I"m gona leave it for someone new to find, but hopefully will find just the right spot today. Sorry it took so long to read but just couldn't get to it till this week. Hope the next person that finds it enjoys it as much as I did.GOOD TRAVELING 

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