The incomparable W. P. Kinsella was born 86 years ago

Photo by Ed Steer

Though now best remembered for his baseball stories, the incomparable W. P. Kinsella first established his literary reputation with his humorous and gritty short stories about the Hobbema Reserve in central Alberta. These tales, largely narrated by Silas Ermineskin, usually focused sympathetically on the lives of Indigenous people in their perennial skirmishes with blundering white institutions and bureaucracies. The first of Kinsella’s many short story collections Dance Me Outside (1977) featured the Hobbema tales. His other collection of the Hobbema stories include Scars (1978), Born Indian (1981), Moccasin Telegraph (1983), The Fencepost Chronicles (1986), The Miss Hobbema Pageant (1989), Brother Frank’s Gospel Hour (1994), and The Secret of the Northern Lights (1998).

Cover by Thomas Canty

Kinsella’s first collection of baseball stories Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes To Iowa (1980) presaged his classic magic realism novel Shoeless Joe (1982), which won the Canadian Authors Association Prize, the Alberta Achievement Award, Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. The novel was adapted into the popular movie Field of Dreams (1989) and garnered three Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. He produced four other baseball novels: The Iowa Baseball Confederacy (1986), If Wishes Were Horses (1996), Magic Time (1998), and Butterfly Winter (2011). Kinsella’s baseball stories were also collected in The Thrill of the Grass (1984), The Further Adventures of Slugger McBatt (1988), The Dixon Cornbelt League and Other Baseball Stories (1993), and Japanese Baseball and Other Stories (2000). He co-wrote the Japanese non-fiction book Ichiro Dreams: Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners (2002). Kinsella edited two baseball anthologies, the non-fiction Diamonds Forever: Reflections from the Field, the Dugout, and the Bleachers (1997) and the fiction Baseball Fantastic (2001).

His other novels and collections include Box Socials (1991), The Winter Helen Dropped By (1994), The Alligator Report (1985), Red Wolf, Red Wolf (1987), and Russian Dolls (2016). Tachyon was honored to produce THE ESSENTIAL W. P. KINSELLA (2015), the last collection to be published during Kinsella’s lifetime.