8♦ 8♦ 8♦ 8♦ 8♦ 8♦ 8♦ 8♦
…man did he ever jack it outta here, a dinger from McSwinger, a whopper from the Big Bopper, going, going, the stands are emptying out, the ball up in the mesosphere, the big guy blistered it, he powdered it, the ground crew picking up bottles and paper cups and peanut shells and hot dog wrappers, power-washing the seats, you can bet people’ll be talking about this one for a long time to come…
When is a gimmick not a gimmick? I would say “when it works”. Steven Millhauser’s “Home Run”, a story of four pages and one sentence definitely has a gimmick aspect to it. Does this gimmick work? I would say that it almost does.
The story is from the point of view of a baseball announcer detailing player McCloskey’s home run – which explains the use of one long sentence. Even though I was reading this to myself (as opposed to out loud), I felt out of breath in my head from not stopping at any periods, question marks, or explanation points. There are only commas. If one truly wanted to get picky, one could say that it really isn’t one sentence. It’s simply a bunch of sentences and phrases put together with commas. But still, Millhauser nicely gives the reader the phrasing and cadence of a baseball announcer.
Another nice touch is that while McCloskey and the announcer and the annoucer’s side kick, Jimmy, are all characters in the story, Millhauser makes the plot revolve around the actual baseball – which just keeps going until the story ends. I enjoyed the way Millhauser continues to use space hyperbole such as the stratosphere, mesosphere, “past Jupiter, see ya Saturn, …past the Milky Way” and numerous other galaxies and stars to track the baseball’s path. I say this is hyperbole but having read other Millhauser stories, it’s hard to say whether this is just for literary effect or whether the ball really has launched into outer space. But with Millhauser, it doesn’t really matter.
I read this story when I drew the 8 of Diamonds for Week 4 of my Deal Me In 2016 short story project. In four weeks, this is my third Diamond card. I really did shuffle the deck. “Home Run” is included in Steven Millhauser’s collection Voices in the Night: Stories which I borrowed from the public library. My Deal Me In 2016 list can be found here. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.