The Golem's Mighty Swing: In stores now!
I've tried to write this blog post a few times. It's difficult. This is the space where I normally say WHOAAAA COOOOL BOOK GET IT! GET IT! And heck yes you totally should! This book rocks. But it's hard not to think about this book, and then start thinking about the state of the world today, and then spiral into a little pit of sadness.
This year we're bringing (or are about to bring) two of my favourite books back into print—Lynda Barry's The Good Times are Killing Me (coming this fall) and, out this week, James Sturm's The Golem's Mighty Swing. At no point was it a conscious decision on our part to bring these classic books back into print because of their timely subject matter; we did it because they are fantastic books that deserve to be readily available. But both books happen to deal with a subject matter all too relevant today: Race in America. Obviously it's complete garbage that these books are now more important than ever, but they do give me a small amount of solace—or, rather, them being back in print at this time does. They ain't gonna solve our problems but hopefully they'll make some people think about where we came from, where we are now, and then contemplate the notion of progress.
Anyway, now that that downer talk is out of the way, WHOAAAA COOOOL BOOK GET IT! GET IT! I am truly thrilled about this book. Originally published in 2001, and one of the first breakout graphic novel hits of the twenty-first century, I suspect many readers, with how much comics have risen in popularity since then, will be encountering this book for the first time. And what a gift that is.
Mixing America's greatest pastime—baseball—with its hidden darkness, The Golem's Mighty Swing tells the story of the Stars of David, a barnstorming Jewish baseball team from the depression era. Led by its manager and third baseman, the nomadic team travels from small town to small town providing the thrill of the sport while playing up their religious exoticism as a curio for people to gawk at, heckle, and taunt.
Baseball, small towns, racial tensions, and the desperate grasp for the American Dream: what more could you ask of a graphic novel? With Sturm's perfectly soft yet precise lines, a truly affecting and entertaining story unfolds. There's a particularly poignant introduction from Gene Luen Yang, too. Here's a brief excerpt:
James Sturm shows us what America wishes it had been, and what America actually was. By rubbing the rose tint from our memories, he uncovers our nation's truest self. We might want American history—and especially American sports history—to be a tidy collection of fables with easy-to-grasp morals. What we actually find is grittier and muddier, but perhaps still hopeful.
And I'll leave you with a photo of James, in Prague, on the same day the book was released. Coincidence? Absolutely!