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Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud

The Might Have Been: A Novel - Joseph M. Schuster Rating: 3.75* of fiveThe Book Description: For Edward Everett Yates, split seconds matter: the precise timing of hitting a low outside pitch, of stealing a base, of running down a fly ball. After a decade playing in the minor leagues—years after most of his peers have given up—he’s still patiently waiting for his chance at the majors. Then one day he gets called up to the St. Louis Cardinals, and finally the future he wanted unfolds before him. But one more split second changes everything: In what should have been the game of his life, he sustains a devastating knee injury, which destroys his professional career. Thirty years later, after sacrificing so many opportunities—a lucrative job, relationships with women who loved him, even the chance for a family—Edward Everett is barely hanging on as the manager of a minor league baseball team, still grappling with regret over the choices he made and the life he almost had. Then he encounters two players—one brilliant but undisciplined, the other eager but unremarkable—who show him that his greatest contribution may come in the last place he ever expected. Full of passion, ambition, and possibility, The Might-Have-Been maps the profound and unpredictable moments that change our lives forever, and the irresistible power of a second chance.My Review: Is it a function of aging that one becomes more and more interested in stories about the roads not taken, the chances unchanced, the opportunities unseized? Maybe it is. Maybe there is nothing more interesting ahead in life than the other paths left behind.That is the most depressing, miserable, sad, and most of all untrue, sentence I've ever written. And this novel explains why.I'm a disabled fifty*mumble* year old who lives mostly in cyberworld because it hurts too much to do things like sit in chairs and ride in cars. Gawd...doesn't that sound horrible? But you know something...it's not. It's a road I'm traveling, and it's got wonderful rewards...how many busy, active people bustling around their "real" lives have the time or the ability to make good friends on every continent of the planet, maintain and grow those friendships, come to care a lot for those friends?...so I don't feel deprived, or "less than," or pitiable.This book is about a man with functioning body parts and no cognitive impairments who can't break free of the deeply narcotic dream of his youth, to excel at one and only one thing. It is unbearably sad. No amount of proof to the contrary can fill the hole in him that's labeled "FailureMan." No amount of life lived feels real enough to round the stabbing edges of The Moment It Changed.How deeply, deeply sad and pathetic it is to know that there are millions if not billions like him, people for whom the present is a shadowplay and The Past is the only real thing. It's not a question of moving on from past pain, a phrase I detest for its implicit judgment of the hearer. It's a case of building something from the rocks and bricks and dirt around you, something you want to look at and live in, even though the rocks and bricks and dirt around you are the ruins of something you once had, or dreamed of having.That's not "moving on." That's moving in to the home you've made from the mess the world makes of all of our dreams. It's what Schuster, by anti-model, shows us is so vitally necessary.I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the baseball setting of the novel made me smile every page or two. The stakes, for my baseball-fan self, were so much sharper for being set in a world I love.This book was a LibraryThing Early Reviewers win.