Going the Distance: The Life and Works of W.P. Kinsella

Douglas & McIntyre. Apr. 2019. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9781771621946. $32.95. LIT
Steele (English, Lipscomb Univ., TN; A Member of the Local Nine) presents an incredibly detailed yet accessible biography of Canadian writer W.P. Kinsella (1935–2016), best remembered for his novel Shoeless Joe, which was later adapted into the acclaimed film Field of Dreams. Here Kinsella is portrayed as cantankerous and with a strong work ethic. Though the author himself claimed to have led a dull life, he was married four times and had two children. Kinsella came to writing much later in life after a succession of odd jobs, including a stint as an owner of a pizza restaurant. It wasn't until 1977 that his first collection of short stories (Dance Me Outside) was published, paving the way for a 40-year career authoring mostly baseball writings as well as stories set on the fictional Hobbema reservation. For all the information provided about Kinsella's personal life, Steele doesn't delve too deeply into his literary influences. He also seems reticent to critique the writer's appropriation of Indigenous voices in his Hobbema collections to any great extent.
VERDICT It will be a long time before this volume is surpassed as the definitive Kinsella biography. Recommended for all literature collections.

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