Swing

Swing

4.9 10
by Philip Beard
     
 

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-Winner of the 2016 IPPY Gold Medal for Contemporary Fiction-

John Kostka is three feet tall but larger than life, moving through the world on gloved hands and powerful arms as if on a set of parallel bars. Henry Graham is a ten year-old boy whose father has just left home for good. When the two meet at a downtown bus stop, all they seem to have in common is

Overview

-Winner of the 2016 IPPY Gold Medal for Contemporary Fiction-

John Kostka is three feet tall but larger than life, moving through the world on gloved hands and powerful arms as if on a set of parallel bars. Henry Graham is a ten year-old boy whose father has just left home for good. When the two meet at a downtown bus stop, all they seem to have in common is their love of the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates. But that is enough to begin a life-long friendship that, eventually, enables both men to confront old enemies and heal old wounds.

Philip Beard's third and most accomplished novel swings between two narratives the way John Kostka swings through life. The result is a multifaceted meditation on childhood heroes, the beauty of baseball and the power of love to heal a family in crisis.

Editorial Reviews

Sara Gruen - New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House
"Philip Beard's Swing is a novel to be savored."
New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House
"Philip Beard's Swing is a novel to be savored."
Kristofer Collins
"Philip Beard's novel Swing is complex and rich, and the characters feel fully made of flesh and blood as they make their way through the pages... It's at once heartbreaking, uplifting and emotionally resonant. In a word, it's beautiful."
Pittsburgh Magazine - Kristofer Collins
"Philip Beard's novel Swing is complex and rich, and the characters feel fully made of flesh and blood as they make their way through the pages... It's at once heartbreaking, uplifting and emotionally resonant. In a word, it's beautiful."
Foreword Reviews
"Beard's characters are flawed but inherently likeable, and he allows us to know them intimately, so their missteps and misfortunes hit like a punch in the gut every time. Every character--the absent father, the troubled sister, the mysterious wonder that is John Kostka--feels alive due to Beard's skillfully simple prose and dialogue. ... [W]ith Swing, Beard has hit it out of the park."
Award-winning author of Faithful and Emily Alone
"Like Chad Harbaugh in The Art of Fielding, Philip Beard uses baseball as a lens to view love and loss. Swing is a generous, heartfelt novel filled with imperfect characters worth loving, and a valentine to Pittsburgh and the great Pirate teams of Maz and Clemente."
Gene Collier
"Beard's richly formed characters each command the reader's interest from the quiet urgency in their evolving selves, but none is as unforgettable as John Kostka, a legless veteran who swings himself on and off PAT buses with varying degrees of success. ...In the game's most elemental terms, Mr. Beard's swing here is just about perfect. In fact, he crushes it."
Stewart O'Nan - Award-winning author of Faithful and Emily Alone
"Like Chad Harbaugh in The Art of Fielding, Philip Beard uses baseball as a lens to view love and loss. Swing is a generous, heartfelt novel filled with imperfect characters worth loving, and a valentine to Pittsburgh and the great Pirate teams of Maz and Clemente."
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Gene Collier
"Beard's richly formed characters each command the reader's interest from the quiet urgency in their evolving selves, but none is as unforgettable as John Kostka, a legless veteran who swings himself on and off PAT buses with varying degrees of success. ...In the game's most elemental terms, Mr. Beard's swing here is just about perfect. In fact, he crushes it."
Sports Illustrated
"SWING is richly rewarding...a tight, poignant coming of age novel...[that] will stay with you long after you put this book down."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940149319978
Publisher:
Philip Beard
Publication date:
05/01/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
95,930
File size:
412 KB

Meet the Author

PHILIP BEARD is the author of two previous novels, Lost in the Garden and Dear Zoe, which was a Borders Original Voices selection, a Book Sense pick, and was named by the American Library Association's Booklist as one its “Ten Best First Novels of the Year.” It is currently being developed as a feature film. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, Traci, and their three daughters.

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Swing 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished reading it, so it's still fresh in my mind, need to digest it a little more - but my god what a fantastic work. The raw emotion this story can evoke in you; you have to read this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bbb57 More than 1 year ago
A beautiful story about good and bad people in the real world.  You will love or hate these people, because they exist all around us.  I absolutely loved every page!!!
PublicLibrarian More than 1 year ago
In alternating chapters about Henry as a boy and Henry as an adult, "Swing" is about teammates-- whether they are friends, family, people with similar traumas, co-workers... and the ways that life events play-out.  Henry is merely a fan, not a professional baseball player, but we see him pitching, batting, catching, and once even running home in his kind and careful way of dealing with people.  If you like books by Fannie Flagg or Ivan Doig or Sandra Dallas...well-told stories about how people get along in life, you will like "Swing."  It has well-drawn relationships and layers of meaning for readers who like to analyze those book qualities, but it is also just a very good story for readers who don't want to have to work in order to enjoy a book. Readers who liked "The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving" for all of its various depictions of fathers, will appreciate the array of fathers, biological and otherwise, in "Swing."  I wouldn't have found this book if someone in my book club hadn't picked it for our next discussion.  And now,  I recommend it to all book clubs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As I read the parts about the baseball games, I felt I was actually there. I loved the portrayal of John and Henry. Although the ending was great, I didn't want it to end. It definitely left me wanting more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I belong to a family of obsessed baseball fans. I understood the characters of Hank and John. At first I loved them for their devotion to the game. Later I loved them for their human strengths and for their failings. The insights into their thoughts and feelings felt real and grounded in truth. I will tell my friend and family that whether the like baseball or not this touching book will satisfy.
kmorrissey More than 1 year ago
I just finished Swing - it was the pick of the month for our book club, and I can't begin to tell you what it meant to me. As a lover of all things baseball and a Pirates season-ticket holder, it has been a difficult row to hoe. Reading about a time when baseball was king here in Pittsburgh was both moving and affirming, especially when the team is finally in the midst of a long awaited resurgence. But it was the honest and beautiful portrait of a family broken and the unseen consequences of the choices we make that I found most compelling. Thank you, Mr. Beard, for such a heartbreaking and captivating story. Thank you for characters who are real rather than stereotypes. And thank you for a tale about a man who was larger than life and the game that was his life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful, wonderful read. Yes, it is about baseball (and great baseball as were the Pirates in the 70s), but so much more. It is about a child whose father leaves him with a huge hole in his being; it is about his sister whose anger generates sexual appetite to fill that hole. and his other sister who develops an eating disorder to fill that same hole. And then a legless man comes to do just that for two of those children through the love of baseball. The child grown up wrestles with his own problems with a sick wife and a tempting student, but he does not make the same mistake as did his father. This novel is about family values, about what it is to love (be it baseball or each other) and about what it is to feel that raw, terribly raw, love of the very young.
jae1 More than 1 year ago
I loved this book ! I lived in Pittsburgh back in the 1970's when both the Pirates and Steelers were at their best. Mr. Beard took me right back to those years with this, his most recent novel.He wove a story into the Pirate lore that a lot of us can relate to. It is both humorous and tender, and touches on many bases, no pun intended. He has a very fertile mind and puts it to great use. I want to take those buses, walk those streets, and meet those  wonderful characters.Thank you Mr. Beard for a great read. I will so look forward to your 4ht. novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Being a child of the 70's in Pittsburgh, I enjoyed the trip back in time. Phil does a great job of getting us to know how his characters feel while also reminding the readers of their own childhood. The attention to detail concerning the Pirates Penant race was great as I was a little too young to completely understand it all but being a baseball fan as an adult, it was fun to learn the history of the team and the players. Certainly, the stories of all of the characters were interesting and touching too, but my favorite part was the baseball.