Perfect I'm Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches, and Baseball

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9780060748111: Perfect I'm Not: Boomer on Beer, Brawls, Backaches, and Baseball
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Perfect I'm Not is, indeed, not a perfect book, but as in baseball, literary imperfection can make for a thrilling ride. Part Horatio Alger, part libertine, Wells peppers the narrative of his rise from poverty in Ocean Beach, California to baseball fame and fortune with numerous prurient tales from behind the locker room door. He is frank about the use of steroids among his fellow players and he's not afraid to burn major bridges (one must assume they were already on fire) in his ferocious attacks on such baseball luminaries as veteran general manager Pat Gillick. And the story behind his woozy perfect game is legend. All this is entertaining stuff and worth the price of admission.

The book, however, falls too often into a pattern of explication and justification for Wells' "entertaining" run-ins with the law, baseball management, players, and even his own family. We learn that young Dave Wells once punched his sister and broke her jaw, but, he explains, this was because his sister had scraped his sunburned back with her fingernails. This childhood story is then repeated--in a grown up form--several times. In many cases, it does seem that he is justified in claiming innocence--or at least in claiming he got an eye for an eye. But repetition of these explications--which even include bad pitching performances caused, we learn, by nascent physical problems (elbow, shoulder, bone chips, gout, back)--take away his agency in his own story. The hero is always a victim. In the end, then, the book is as flawed as its author, offering entertaining insight--some perhaps unintentional--into the man and his game. --Patrick O'Kelley, Amazon.com

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