San Diego author Walt Meyer stopped by the Liberty One Radio studios today to talk about his new work, "Rounding Third." The novel, published by MaxM Ltd, is Meyer's third work, and is already receiving critical acclaim.
The novel draws you in to its story, with echoes of familiar themes of high school identity issues, sports, and coming of age. As the book's jacket describes
"Rob Wardell is a seventeen-year old who feels like he doesn't quite fit in anywhere--not at home, not at school and not on the baseball field. The small, shy boy stays on the high school baseball team only to please his father since he knows he will never get to play. He’s living his life alone until he finds himself drawn into a friendship with the team’s new star pitcher, Josh Schlagel..."
The book's main character, Bobby Wardell, faces a number of challenges familiar to many young men: he's on the baseball team, (but only as a bench-warmer) while his father looks with a disappointment sigh at his sensitive son who won't shoot the deer. Bobby faces harassment and physical abuse from jock bullies as part of his daily existence. Not to mention the sweaty confusion of adolescent romantic feelings.
What's unusual about Meyer's work is the fact the attraction that Bobby begins to feel is for the newest member of the baseball team. Josh Schlagel is that friend -- the good-looking star pitcher who is the first one on the team to acknowledge Bobby's contributions. As their friendship develops, Bobby gains confidence, scores an important run, and even receives accolades from his father on the pick-up basketball court. Through Josh, Bobby gains a sense of self -- and is coming of age.
Yet all is not well in Harrisonburg -- a fictitious town in Northern Ohio, where the Chevrolet signs hang proudly, and Civil War history is still relevant. Bobby's new friend Josh has his own issues to deal with -- a conservative religious family that will not accept a son for who he is. "Rounding Third" unflinchingly strides into difficult, even dark territory.
As the author puts it "the book sort of sneaks up on you." Through the metaphor of sports and youth, Meyer (above, right) is able to access deeper questions about justice and freedom. The questions he raises could not come at a more appropriate moment. American soldiers (including LGBT warriors) have been sent overseas to ostensibly bring American ideals of freedom, when back home in America many people do not enjoy freedom or equality.
As Meyer puts it "America talks a good game about freedom sometimes," but has yet to live up to its promise, or as Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. said "all we ask America, is that you be true to what you said on paper."
In the age of Proposition 8, Maine's Question 1 and brutal violence against kids like Matthew Shepard, an important conversation has to take place: are we able to make good on the promise of America?
The issues raised by "Rounding Third" are part of that critical conversation. I'm already looking forward to the sequel.
- Filed by Mike Copass for Liberty One Radio
(see audio interview to be posted 11/12/09)
Rounding Third is available at the Obelisk Bookstore in Hillcrest (see yelp) in San Diego, or you can order a signed copy on Walt Meyer's website. Copies are also available from any online bookseller including Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.