Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger

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From Publishers Weekly: Mixing nostalgia, baseball and a boy’s mostly epistolary friendship with a 1940s baseball star, this inventive but sentimental novel consists entirely of letters, fictional newspaper clippings, telegrams, war dispatches, report cards and other documentary fragments. Growing up Jewish in a tough, Italian Brooklyn neighborhood, Joey Margolis is troubled by anti-Semitic neighbors, by Hitler’s rising power, by his parents’ divorce and by his absent cad of a father. Craving a surrogate dad, Joey strikes up a correspondence with Wisconsin-born New York Giants slugger Charlie Banks. The boy’s outrageous fibs, tough-guy posturing and desperate pleas grab the reluctant attention of the superstar, whose racy vernacular guy-talk (peppered with amusing misspellings and misusages) hints at his deepening affection for Joey.
I want to thank Les for posting about Last Days of Summer a few months ago. It was published in 1998 and reprinted in 2002. I hadn’t heard of it but her comments piqued my interest. My whole family are baseball fans so I really enjoyed all the player and game references. The friendship between Joey and Charlie is quite touching. They were equally important to each other and watching their story unfold was a wonderful reading experience. I recommend this to anyone who loves a good story with a lot of heart (baseball fan or not)!