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The Fireballer: A Novel Paperback – Jan. 1 2023
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A poignant story about hopes, dreams, and how far one man’s talent takes him before he realizes it’s about what you do―and how you do it.
Frank Ryder is unstoppable on the baseball field―his pitches arrive faster than a batter can swing, giving his opponents no chance. He’s being heralded as a game-changing pitcher.
But within the maelstrom of press, adulation, and wild speculation, Frank is a man alone. Haunted by a tragic incident from years past, he yearns to be the best but cannot reconcile the guilt he carries with the man everyone believes him to be. Frank’s path to redemption leads him on a journey back to where his life changed forever, to visit his family, his high school coach, and his brother. Through reconnection and reconciliation with those also deeply affected by the devastating event of Frank’s youth, he finds peace and his place in the world both in and outside the game.
The Fireballer is a lyrical, moving story of undeniable talent and the life-changing power of forgiveness and a subtly romantic ode to America’s favorite pastime.
From the Publisher
“Readers looking for sports fiction heavy on the baseball will enjoy this book.” —Library Journal
“Like the game of baseball, the great American pastime, there is much to love in The Fireballer by Mark Stevens…a book to enjoy like it was the seventh game of the World Series and your team won.” —New York Journal of Books
“Fleet and fun, The Fireballer will appeal to fans of The Natural and Robert Coover’s The Universal Baseball Association. Frank Ryder is a classic American hero—the phenom who has to overcome his own terrible past. Mark Stevens has done the impossible: He actually had me rooting for the Orioles.” —Stewart O’Nan, coauthor of Faithful and author of Ocean State
“Seldom do I read a book that knocks my socks off the way The Fireballer did. This is a feel-good baseball story with a hold on the vernacular, the heart, the soul, the big picture, and the subtleties of America’s favorite summer pastime. The characters are beautifully etched, and pitcher Frank Ryder may be the most likeable hero since Gary Cooper gave life to Lou Gehrig on the big screen. I guarantee that you don’t have to be a baseball fan to be swept up by this moving tale. With a full heart, I recommend—no, insist—that you read The Fireballer.” —William Kent Krueger, author of Fox Creek and This Tender Land
“Mark Stevens’s The Fireballer is a timeless baseball story told with a love of the game and fast-moving prose that will leave you cheering and crying at the same time. Frank Ryder is the most appealing of heroes, taciturn and loyal, talented and haunted—truly haunted—and with a fastball that will change the game. With its authentic baseball scenes and its rich heart, The Fireballer is a novel that rests comfortably with other classics of the game.” —William Lashner, author of The Barkeep
“The Fireballer is not just a great baseball yarn that any fan of the game will enjoy—it is also a richly-layered exploration of character, regret, and redemption.” —Lou Berney, author of November Road and The Long and Faraway Gone
“The old game of baseball keeps coming up with new stories about the next twist or turn in the sport. In The Fireballer, Mark Stevens has invented a startling ‘What if?’ that stretches the limits of the game. More than a baseball book, the novel is a journey through the mind and heart of a gifted, but tragic, athlete who finds a road to redemption.” —Stephen Singular, New York Times bestselling author
“The Fireballer is a compelling story that I found hard to put down, rich with authentic baseball details and full of heart. Mark Stevens hits it out of the park with this intricate and moving tale of redemption.” —Robert Bailey, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Golfer’s Carol
“Mark Stevens has crafted a powerful, heartfelt story—with a memorable baseball backdrop—that carves out a place alongside classics like The Art of Fielding and The Natural. Stevens knows the game—but it’s his deft narrative and characters that help this book truly sing. I couldn’t put it down.” —Alex Segura, bestselling author of Secret Identity
“You don’t have to know baseball to love The Fireballer. At the center of this big-hearted book is Frank Ryder, a star pitcher tormented by a mistake in his past. Readers root for Frank not for his fastball, but because his redemption delivers us all.” —Stephanie Kane, award-winning mystery writer and author of True Crime Redux
“Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie…and heart. Pitcher phenom Frank Ryder’s heart is bigger than the game—as is his grief—and his fastball has the potential to transform or destroy both. As Mark Stevens divulges Ryder’s temptations and talent alongside the complexities of the sport, readers will find themselves captivated by a world-class athlete’s regrets and life choices in The Fireballer.” —Janet Fogg, award-winning author of Soliloquy and coauthor of the best seller Fogg in the Cockpit
“The Fireballer goes straight into my pantheon of great baseball writing, alongside The Brothers K (David James Duncan), The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach), You Gotta Have Wa (Robert Whiting), and the many treasures by Roger Angell. Mark Stevens’s ability to get ‘inside baseball’—while telling a moving human story—is both astounding and worthy of readers of all interests and tastes.” —John Galligan, author of the Bad Axe County series
“In The Fireballer, Mark Stevens may have invented a new subgenre: the emotional thriller. As Frank Ryder journeys to the source of both his phenomenal talent and his psychic pain, I couldn’t stop turning pages. And when he earns his redemption? Reader, I cried. Love, loss, and ultimate triumph—this book delivers at 110 miles per hour.” —Keir Graff, author of The Three Mrs. Wrights (writing with Linda Joffe Hull as Linda Keir)
“Brimming with humanity, The Fireballer is a richly imagined tale of the modern American pastime with a heart as big as center field. Pure storytelling genius.” — Scott Graham, winner of the National Outdoor Book Award and author of Saguaro Sanction
“The Fireballer is about a baseball pitcher, sure. The way The Natural is about a bat and Shoeless Joe is about a corn field. But this many-layered tale deeply considers hope, fear, love, grief, and change, all through the prism of our beautiful national pastime. The writing is heartfelt and gorgeous. The Fireballer struck me out.” —Richard Cass, author of the Elder Darrow Jazz Mysteries and The Last Altruist
“This is a great American novel that is about so much more than the great American pastime.” —Wendy J. Fox, author of If the Ice Had Held and What If We Were Somewhere Else
“The Fireballer isn’t just about baseball. It’s about life and loss and what love can do. Mark Stevens shows not only a deep understanding of the game but of human frailty and grace as well. This book is a true triumph.” —Claire Booth, award-winning journalist and critically acclaimed author of the Hank Worth mysteries
“With baseball as the backdrop, The Fireballer is a rich story that will have you rooting for Frank Ryder as he struggles with imprinted tragedies of his past. Don’t be dissuaded if you’re not a fan of baseball. The enjoyment of this novel comes from the talent of Mark Stevens and his craft of characters with depth and heart. The emotion is palpable and the story moving.” —Wendy Terrien, award-winning author of The Rampart Guards
“The Fireballer is more than a story of a freakishly talented baseball pitcher. It’s the story of a good man trapped in an industry that both reveres and despises his abilities, and disregards the emotional toll the game takes. While reading The Fireballer I could see the players scattered in the field, smell the beer and hot dogs at the stadium, and feel the whoosh of Frank Ryder’s fastball zooming past the batter. A truly great sports novel.” —Stephanie Gayle, author of Idyll Threats
“In fresh, evocative prose, Stevens spins a tale about a phenom baseball pitcher that transcends the genre of ‘sports fiction.’ Compelling and humane. Highly recommended.” —Karen Odden, USA Today bestselling author of the Inspector Corravan Mysteries
About the Author
The son of two librarians, Mark Stevens was raised in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and has worked as a reporter, as a national television news producer, and in public relations. Antler Dust was a Denver Post bestseller in 2007 and 2009. Buried by the Roan, Trapline, and Lake of Fire were all finalists for the Colorado Book Award (2012, 2015, and 2016, respectively), and Trapline won. Trapline also won the Colorado Authors League award for best genre fiction. Stevens has had short stories published by Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, by Mystery Tribune, and in Denver Noir (Akashic Books). In September 2016, Stevens was named Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Writer of the Year. Stevens hosts a regular podcast for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and has served as president of the Rocky Mountain chapter for Mystery Writers of America. Stevens also writes book reviews; follow them at https://markhstevens.wordpress.com. Today, Stevens lives in Mancos, Colorado.
- Publisher : Lake Union Publishing (Jan. 1 2023)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1662505639
- ISBN-13 : 978-1662505638
- Item weight : 408 g
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 2.54 x 20.96 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #392,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #1,796 in Sports Fiction (Books)
- #5,585 in Coming of Age Fiction (Books)
- #27,548 in Literary Fiction (Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top review from Canada
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An engaging story of a rookie breaking into the big leagues coupled with interesting ideas of how baseball adapts as human performance challenges the existing dimensions.
Top reviews from other countries
Likewise some of the dramatic moments were a bit forced but overall and entertaining and interesting read.
Please can we have more choices like this rather than some of the predictable and dull crime thrillers that are usually offered?