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W. P. Kinsella (1935–2016)

Author of Shoeless Joe

40+ Works 5,098 Members 95 Reviews 19 Favorited

About the Author

William Patrick Kinsella was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on May 25, 1935. He received a bachelor of arts degree in creative writing at the University of Victoria in 1974 and a master of fine arts degree in English at the University of Iowa in 1978. Before becoming a full-time author, he was a show more professor of English at the University of Calgary. During his lifetime, he wrote approximately 30 books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. His first collection of baseball stories, Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa, was published in 1980. In 1982, Kinsella expanded the stories into the novel Shoeless Joe, which was adapted into the 1989 movie Field of Dreams starring Kevin Costner and Ray Liotta. Shoeless Joe won the Canadian Authors Association Prize, the Alberta Achievement Award, the Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. His other novels included The Iowa Baseball Confederacy, The Further Adventures of Slugger McBatt, The Alligator Report, The Miss Hobbema Pageant, Magic Time, If Wishes Were Horses, Butterfly Winter, and Russian Dolls. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1993. He received the Order of British Columbia in 2005 and the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. He died of a doctor-assisted death on September 16, 2016 at the age of 81. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by W. P. Kinsella

Shoeless Joe (1982) 1,929 copies
Field of Dreams [1989 film] (1989) — Author — 360 copies
Box Socials (1991) 334 copies
The Fencepost Chronicles (1986) 101 copies
The Alligator Report (1986) 89 copies
Scars (1978) 72 copies

Associated Works

The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction (1983) — Contributor — 1,114 copies
The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories in English (1986) — Contributor — 112 copies
Invaders: 22 Tales from the Outer Limits of Literature (2016) — Contributor — 106 copies
The American Fantasy Tradition (2002) — Contributor — 90 copies
The New Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories (1986) — Contributor — 72 copies
Great Baseball Stories (1979) — Contributor — 47 copies
Baseball: The National Pastime in Art and Literature (2001) — Foreword — 28 copies
The Oxford Book of Canadian Ghost Stories (1990) — Contributor — 19 copies
Ark of Ice (1992) — Contributor — 15 copies
The Penguin Book of Modern Canadian Short Stories (1982) — Contributor — 12 copies
Dance Me Outside [1994 film] (1994) — Original novel — 8 copies


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Common Knowledge



It's really too bad that so many folks see the book through the lens of the film, and I'm no exception. But they are two separate things. The film is fantastic, but so is the book on which the film is based. A novel has to be whittled down to fit into a hour and a half movie. There is so much that has to be left out. If you loved the film, and especially if baseball means a lot to you, do yourself a favor and read the book.
MickeyMole | 42 other reviews | Oct 2, 2023 |
Most of the reviews of this book compare it to the movie (Field of Dreams), which is not quite fair. The film has a different theme than the book, stressing much more the relationship of Ray and his father, a minor part of the book (and the main story-line in the film), though the basic plot is the same. The film is meant to tear at your heartstrings. There are more characters in the book. I will try and avoid comparisons, and talk about the book itself. I originally read the book when it was first published and decided to re-read it again. So, what is the theme of the book? It is a fantasy, of course. But what kind? Most of the characters are long dead (all the so-called "Black Sox", Moonlight Graham, Ray's father), yet Ray, his family, and some others see and talk to them. "Shoeless" Joe even swings Ray's young daughter in his hands. Are they there? You only seem to see if you believe. Some characters only see an empty, small baseball field. Ray hears the voice, as does JD Salinger (Terence Mann in the film), and they see the message on the scoreboard. Or do they? Ray sometimes is suddenly in the past, then back to the present. Why is he directed to get Salinger, then find the dead Moonlight Graham (whom he never heard of previously)? Ray's twin brother is himself directed to re-connect with Ray. Is the book is about believing and following your dreams, even though it may seem crazy to others? Is it the love Ray has for "Shoeless" Joe that brings him back to life? Ray fulfills his dream, as does Moonlight Graham, Eddie Scissons (the "oldest Cub"). and Ray's father, even JD Salinger seems to. And what does the public see when they arrive at the field? Many questions that you must answer yourself after you read "Shoeless Joe". But, maybe that is the essence of a good book, it makes you think more. Kinsella creates great characters (I fell in love with Annie) and makes the historical characters seem realistic. It makes you love baseball (well, OK, I already did). By all means read this book, then try some of Kinsella's other books. Then read some JD Salinger, too...and flip through the Baseball Encyclopedia if you get a chance....… (more)
CRChapin | 42 other reviews | Jul 8, 2023 |
Let's get something straight: Field of Dreams is one of my favourite movies. Maybe... my very favourite movie. I've always known it was based on this book, but for whatever reason it has taken me over 20 years to actually read this book. It is weird, reading a book that you've already seen a movie adaptation of. I usually do it the other way around. So, not much of this story was a surprise to me. However, there is a LOT in this book that never made it to the movie. The thing about movies based on books is that movies get cluttered much faster than books do, so they need to be distilled, to get the essence of the narrative and apply cinematic principles to it. So, some of the key characters in the book (Ray Kinsella's twin brother, and Ray's buddy, "the oldest living Cub" for example) never made it to the movie, though they are constants throughout the novel. There is a scene in the movie where Ray's wife, Annie, stands up to a conservative crowd in a town hall meeting, defending a controversial book by Terence Mann, the fictional author who stands in for J. D. Salinger. Never happened in the book (and Salinger appears as himself there also). So, my point is that at times I was tempted to jump ahead or skip things as I was reading this book, because I knew how it was going to go. But, enough was different from the movie version that I actually couldn't be confident it WOULD go how it did in the movie. There is no reason the story should turn out the same in the movie as it does in the book. I won't tell you, dear reader, whether I was right or not -- you'll have to find out for yourself. Kinsella wrote a lot about baseball, and a lot about the Indigenous peoples of Canada (which maybe would be considered a big appropriation no-no nowadays, since he was a white guy). He mostly wrote short stories, which is not my genre of choice, so I doubt I'll dip much further into his bibliography, but I may pick up another of his baseball novels someday. He was a good writer, and I'm sure Field of Dreams is a great film because it had great source material.… (more)
karenchase | 42 other reviews | Jun 14, 2023 |
Amazing…just amazing…but like Kinsella, I’m a baseball freak. Wrought with emotion, exceptionally written, an all over masterpiece. I need to read more of his work.
MrMet | 42 other reviews | Apr 28, 2023 |



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