Last summer we decided to pass the time by reading some books about sports and writing about them. We didn’t get as far as we would have liked, but it was an interesting exercise in reading and digesting information. One of the books I wanted to talk about was by a local writer, Mick Cochrane.
Now the problem wasn’t that I didn’t read the book, but rather that I read it too soon. Sport accompanied me to Boston the summer before, and while I wanted to talk about it again it just didn’t feel right. I decided I would wait for his next book.
Well, last month that new book was released, and it’s called The Girl Who Threw Butterflies. Now I was going to give it a shot anyway, but this book had two things going for it already: it takes place in Buffalo, and it’s about baseball. Even better, it’s about a knuckleball pitcher.
I don’t want to say too much, but the book is very good. Much like Sport, Mick takes baseball and makes it mean so much more, and that’s something a sports fan like me can always connect to. Cochrane writes in a smooth, concentrated manner, and he’ll catch you with a laugh every now and then.
It may sound strange, but one of my favorite things about the book is that I knowthe setting. I’m a sucker for books involving Buffalo, and Cochrane does a great job describing the city, right down to the little details of the place we call home. This isn’t “Bruce Almighty” Buffalo, this is the real deal.
In fact, what struck me most of all is this passage later on in the book. Molly, the main character, is asked by her mom if she wants to move:
Her mother had never liked Buffalo. She’d come because it was where she and Molly’s dad both found good jobs after college. She’d thought they’d just be passing through. Buffalo would be a short, funny line on her resume. For her, just like the rest of the country, it was a punch line, the city of snow and Super Bowl losers, the city of chicken wings and unemployment. It was part of the Rust Belt. Where the big ideas for urban renewal were casino gambling and a fishing tackle superstore. It was what people hoped didn’t happen to their cities. It was like Siberia, a place you’d go to disappear, to be punished.
That’s the kind of paragraph you can’t fake. So many people say the same things about Buffalo, but that’s about as close to reality as you can get. However, Molly doesn’t feel that way about her home.
To Molly, Buffalo was no joke. For better or worse, it was home. She didn’t want a fresh start. Maybe her life was messed up, but she wasn’t ready to trade it for a new one.
Suddenly I found a lot of myself in Molly. It’s the kind of thing I tell my family over and over again, and something I truly believe about my home. The Girl Who Threw Butterfliesisn’t about Buffalo, but it is about sports and how we see our lives through them. There is a philosophy to throwing a knuckleball, a way of living that translates into the real world.
The book may be intended for “young adults”, but even in my relative maturity I enjoyed reading it. It was quick, memorable, and certianly hits close to home. I suppose it’s not an official “Reading with the Roost” entry, but I’m glad I had the time to add it to the list.