Pafko at the Wall: A Novella

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Simon and Schuster, Jun 30, 2008 - Fiction - 96 pages
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"There's a long drive.

It's gonna be.

I believe.

The Giants win the pennant.

The Giants win the pennant.

The Giants win the pennant.

The Giants win the pennant."

-- Russ Hodges, October 3, 1951

On the fiftieth anniversary of "The Shot Heard Round the World," Don DeLillo reassembles in fiction the larger-than-life characters who on October 3, 1951, witnessed Bobby Thomson's pennant-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jackie Gleason is razzing Toots Shor in Leo Durocher's box seats; J. Edgar Hoover, basking in Sinatra's celebrity, is about to be told that the Russians have tested an atomic bomb; and Russ Hodges, raw-throated and excitable, announces the game -- the Giants and the Dodgers at the Polo Grounds in New York. DeLillo's transcendent account of one of the iconic events of the twentieth century is a masterpiece of American sportswriting.

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Page 7 - ... this metropolis of steel and concrete and flaky paint and cropped grass and enormous Chesterfield packs aslant on the scoreboards, a couple of cigarettes jutting from each. Longing on a large scale is what makes history. This is just a kid with a local yearning but he is part of an assembling...
Page 72 - The meatblood colors and massed bodies, this is a census-taking of awful ways to die. He looks at the flaring sky in the deep distance out beyond the headlands on the left-hand page — Death elsewhere, Conflagration in many places, Terror universal, the crows, the ravens in silent glide, the raven perched on the white nag's rump, black and white forever, and he thinks of a lonely tower standing on the Kazakh Test Site, the tower armed with the bomb, and he can almost hear the wind blowing across...
Page 35 - All these people formed by language and climate and popular songs and breakfast foods and the jokes they tell and the car they drive have never had anything in common so much as this, that they are sitting in the furrows of destruction.
Page 72 - ... Asian steppes, out where the enemy lives in long coats and fur caps, speaking that old weighted language of theirs, liturgical and grave. What secret history are they writing? There is the secret of the bomb and there are the secrets that the bomb inspires, things even the Director cannot guess — a man whose own sequestered heart holds every festering secret in the Western world — because these plots are only now evolving.
Page 31 - That's not a bush curve Maglie's throwing," he says into the mike. When he was doing ghost games he liked to take the action into the stands, inventing a kid chasing a foul ball, a carrot-topped boy with a cowlick (shameless, ain't I) who retrieves the ball and holds it aloft, this five-ounce sphere of cork, rubber, yarn, horsehide and spiral stitching, a souvenir baseball, a priceless thing somehow...
Page 73 - It's not enough," he reckons, "to hate your enemy. You have to understand how the two of you bring each other to deep completion.

About the author (2008)

Don DeLillo is the author of fifteen novels, including Zero K, Underworld, Falling Man, White Noise, and Libra. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, he was awarded the PEN/Saul Bellow Prize. His story collection The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the 2011 Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

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