About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Letter to Roger Angell on This Old Man Begun

During Christmas break I purchased a copy of This Old Man which contains writings of Roger Angell of the New Yorker magazine. Angell, 94 at the time of publication, made his initial contribution to the New Yorker in 1944 and became a fiction editor there in 1956 following in the footsteps of his mother, Katherine Sergeant Angell White, who had also been a fiction editor at the magazine. He is one of the most gifted writers of essays in the world. Age has not dimmed his writing skills. After reading the book I decided to write my thoughts in the form of a letter and mail it to Roger. The letter will be divided between this post and my next post.

Roger Angell
The New Yorker
1 World Trade Center
New York, New York
U.S.A. 10007

Dear Roger:

I enjoy exhibitions of grace. Whether on the field of play or on the printed page I love to see grace in action.

Reading your book This Old Man reminded me of the grace of your writing. The stories flow easily. They are interesting. They are unhurried.

It has been some years since I read your work. I have next to me in a bookcase four of your collections of essays on baseball. My recent reading has focused on crime fiction, especially for my blog, but there was no specific reason I drifted away from your writing. It has been good to return to reading your essays.

I have long admired your writing about sport, especially baseball, while carrying out your work as an editor of fiction at The New Yorker.

My life includes writing about sports while spending most of my time in other work. I have written a sports column for the local weekly paper, The Melfort Journal, for 38 years while practising law full time. I no longer write weekly columns but have continued to cover the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

In reading your stories about baseball in This Old Man it is clear to me that you like to have conversations with ball players, managers and coaches. I equally prefer to talk with athletes rather than just asking a couple of questions and moving on to the next person. I am finding it more difficult to have conversations. Players have come to expect no more than a leading question or two from a reporter. Most are startled by the concept of talking with a reporter.

Your essays, such as your recounting of a conversation with Earl Weaver, in which he profanely expressed disinterest in coaching high school or university baseball after being a major league baseball manager illustrates the unexpected joys that come from taking time to chat.

Occasionally I have had the chance to cover a major league game. In 1991 I was in Minneapolis and had a chance to visit with Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish, then an adviser on pitching to the Milwaukee Brewers. We were sitting in the dugout while he talked pitching. He told story after story. Suddenly I saw Rick Dempsey strapping on his catching gear and smiling at us. I expect Cal would have sat there in the dugout talking to me for the whole game if I could have stayed.

While I recognize a sports writer need not love sports I am glad that you love baseball. Most of my columns have been about football as the Riders are Saskatchewan’s professional team but it is baseball that I have loved all my life. My family has been playing baseball in Saskatchewan for almost 100 years.

Until I was an adult it was never baseball. I played hardball as a boy. I still like using hardball better than baseball to describe the game.

It is the grace in baseball that draws me to the game rather than the overpowering fastball or the homerun. Watching a pitcher changing speeds, locations and pitches is an artistry I look forward to every summer. Fielders smoothly handling ground balls never lose its allure. I admire the easy swings of the best hitters.

As I approach 64 I still play some baseball in Saskatchewan’s Twilite Provincial Tournaments. Many of the players are now a generation younger than me as you can be a Twiliter upon reaching 35. While grace now eludes me on the field guile can still get me, the slowest pitcher in the province, through some innings on the mound.

(Finished in my next post.)


  1. Oh, what an interesting letter, Bill! Not only does it pay tribute to Angell's writing, but it offers some insight into your experience and interests, too. I'm looking forward to reading what comes next!

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment and kind words. Angell is one of the best.

  2. Great letter Bill.
    I loved Roger Angell's Five Seasons and The Summer Game. My first boss had worked in the USA for several years and was a baseball fan. While stuck in Pittsburgh Greyhound bus depot during the 1979 World Series watching on the parking meter type TVs I too became a fanatic. Those late innings comebacks are so dramatic.
    Baseball is still a sport where a comparatively low salary team such as the Kansas City Royals can beat the multimillionaires of the Yankees or Dodgers.

    1. Uriah: Thanks for the comment. Opening Day is less than a month away and then baseball every day for over 6 months! I was glad to hear of your personal connections with the game.