Jeff Fearnside's "Going for Broke" comes from his debut collection, Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air (2016, Stephen F. Austin State University Press), probably leading most of you to wonder, why didn't he read the title story? The story is an excellent one, merging the horrific (Japanese-American internment camps) with the zen-like (for the protagonist, it's baseball).
The story's current time takes place during the span of a baseball game in which the protagonist is pitching a fantastic game, for his team of Japanese-Americans; a game during which he realizes that a scout from Brooklyn is in the stands--one that has seen him pitch well before. Throughout the game, as the innings progress, there are flashbacks that span from his childhood on up through the time his family finally left the internment camps.
What Fearnside does in this story shows great skill, great empathy, and a talent for weaving in a lot of detail without seeming to be researched. The descriptions of baseball were dead-on--from playing catch as a youth with his dad, learning the finer points of the game and pitching, on up through the game, as a young adult, that goes from a possible no-hitter to one where pushing through pain is needed to hold on to the win. Knowing this, as a longtime baseball fan, it leads me to believe that the story line regarding the internment camp is most likely similarly as accurate. Assuming as much, the combination and contrasting of the brutal aspects of life the internment camp brought upon their lives (left their farm behind, only allowed to bring what they could carry, treated like animals during transportation, dealt with as if they were the enemy with needs to swear they'd fight for the US no matter against whom, etc.) with the quiet calm that baseball brought his protagonist was a great move by Fearnside. However, I've read many a story where a great idea seemed wasted well before I'd gotten to the last word and Fearnside refuses to let this story become one of those with masterful digging into his characters and countering the situations as nicely as he does.
I'll definitely be dipping further into this collection to see what else Jeff Fearnside has chosen to write about and how he's handled it.