|Adam Pachter, editor of "Further Fenway Fiction," short stories about the Boston Red Sox, will read from the book at the Reading Public Library. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)|
Red Sox sequel born of victory, not frustration
They say victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.
Defeat is also one incredible muse.
Author and lifelong Red Sox fan Adam Emerson Pachter of Arlington found that out in 2003 and early 2004 when he organized and edited "Fenway Fiction," a collection of short stories, poems, play excerpts, and literary riffs on the hometown team.
Although the book was published in 2005 by Rounder Books, after the first Red Sox World Series championship in 86 years, the contributors seemed to be inspired by the team's keen ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The Sox had "an almost Shakespearean quality to how they would always come so close and fall so short," noted Pachter, a novelist, nonfiction writer, and the father of two young daughters.
"One of the things I paraphrase in the introduction to the first book is 'Happy baseball teams are all alike; every unhappy baseball team is unhappy in its own way.' The Red Sox had this particular combination of history and tragedy, which is irresistible." After all, "Fenway Park opened the same week the Titanic sunk."
The success of "Fenway Fiction" called for a sequel, but Pachter wasn't sure if the formula could be repeated.
"It's not hard to see how defeat is inspirational for a fiction writer," he said. The question was, "Can victory be as inspirational as defeat?"
The answer, judging from the breadth of the submissions, was yes. Pachter, who will read and discuss his books Tuesday at the Reading Public Library, was happy to find writers coming up with even better fiction that, directly and indirectly, reflected the Red Sox.
"Further Fenway Fiction: More Short Stories from Red Sox Nation" was published in late 2007, the year the Red Sox won yet another World Series victory. The 18 contributions all have Red Sox angles, but they are not all "about" the Red Sox. The authors are not sports writers; they are as interested in the trajectory of the human spirit as about the arc of a fly ball.
Lynnfield resident Tracey Miller Geary's story "October 2004" is about a divorced woman taking a chance on a new love as the Red Sox inched closer to World Series fame. Elizabeth Pariseau of Lowell writes about a dying man in a nursing home who has a strange relationship with slugger Ted Williams in "A Little Business, A Little Ballgame." There is an excerpt from Maine native Henry Garfield's novel "Tartabull's Throw" which, Pachter said, "is the best Red Sox, time-travel, werewolf novel you will ever read."
While most of the stories veer into the imagined or the fantastic, all have a kernel of Red Sox fact.
For example, Pachter's story "Cuttyhunk" was based on the actual promise of Larry Lucchino to bring the 2004 Red Sox World Series trophy to every city and town in Massachusetts.
"The last town that the World Series trophy visited is the smallest town in Massachusetts," Pachter said. "It is the tiny town of Gosnold on the island of Cuttyhunk, between New Bedford and Martha's Vineyard. Year-round population 86, which has significance for Red Sox fans. On a warm June afternoon, the trophy came to this littlest town in Massachusetts and completed its tour there. I read a Boston Globe account of that and I thought, 'I can make a fictional story out of that.' "
So Pachter wrote a story in which a young man sets out to get to Cuttyhunk, see the trophy, and reclaim the memories of a lost love. While Lucchino makes a cameo appearance, the rest of the characters and circumstances are fictional
A number of the stories are about love or family relationships that somehow intertwine with the fate of the Sox. It's "Boy meets team. Boy loves team. Then boy meets girl. Or girl meets boy - it runs both ways," Pachter said. Then boy or girl has to integrate that new love with the old relationship.
Pachter said he hopes to have a third volume of Fenway fiction in 2009, perhaps focusing on the community or the "Red Sox diaspora."
"I want to make it as diverse as Red Sox Nation," Pachter said. He has no fear that only angst breeds inspiration. "I'm continually amazed at the different directions people can take this."