Book Review – American Past Time: A Novel by Len Joy


American Past Time: A Novel, written by Len Joy, is the first fiction novel to have a St. Louis Cardinals tie since Chad Harbauch’s The Art of Fielding: A Novel.

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Set in 1953, Dancer Stonemason is a minor league pitcher who is on the brink of a Labor Day call-up to the St. Louis Cardinals. The chance to play with the likes of Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter at the Major League level. Who wouldn’t want to play with players like that?

Pitching in the minor leagues, Stonemason is three innings and three days away from his dream of pitching for the Cardinals. Those three innings turn into nine as Stonemason’s son watches on. Could Stonemason pitch a perfect game–the pinnacle of any baseball pitcher’s career minus induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown?

However, this moment in time soon kick starts a chain of events for Dancer Stonemason. He’s due for a long winter.

Len Joy takes us on a 20-year journey as we watch Stonemason go from contending on the baseball diamond to life and family. His journey takes him to the foundries of Southern Missouri, where he finds himself struggling to rationalize those old dreams and face a new reality. The pitcher soon realizes that life is not a baseball game and off the mound, it’s very far from perfect.

Stonemason finds a way to hold on and endure when the ovations stop.

The backdrop of life in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s means that American Past Time has some of the beautifully-crafted characters that have been seen on the pages of a novel with baseball at its core. This book shows us that redemption is possible even if time is slow to heal wounds.