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Kinsella, W P

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1935-2016) Canadian author whose first stories, assembled as Dance Me Outside (coll 1977) and Scars (coll 1978), deal with Native Canadians, centring on the figure of Silas Ermineskin. He remains best known, however, for his Baseball tales, several examples of which are discussed in that entry; these can be found in such collections as The Thrill of the Grass (coll 1984), The Alligator Report (coll 1985), The Further Adventures of Slugger McBatt: Baseball Stories (coll 1988), The Dixon Cornbelt League and Other Baseball Stories (coll 1993) and Japanese Baseball and Other Stories (coll 2000); as well as two standalone novels, the nonfantastic Box Socials (1993) and Butterfly Winter (early versions of two chapters, "The Battery" in The Thrill of the Grass [coll 1985] and "Butterfly Winter" in Red Wolf, Red Wolf [coll 1987]; much exp 2011), whose twin protagonists play catch with each other in the womb (see Magic Realism). Of particular note is the Shoeless Joe sequence of baseball tales, comprising "Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa" in Aurora: New Canadian Writing 1979 (anth 1979; exp 1982) edited by Wolfe Morris, much expanded as Shoeless Joe (1982), which was filmed as Field of Dreams (1989); The Iowa Baseball Confederacy (1986), whose baseball-haunted protagonists are shifted by Timeslip to the turn of the twentieth century, where they participate in an exhibition game which lasts forty days and forty nights, while around them the world becomes more and more phantasmagoric; and If Wishes Were Horses (1996), which introduces UFOs and Parallel Worlds into the complex generic mix. Shoeless Joe itself, Kinsella's first novel, differs from the movie mainly in the presence of a fictionalized J D Salinger (1919-2010), whose longing for happiness is rewarded when he accompanies the ghost baseball players (see Supernatural Creatures) to enter some sort of Afterlife; the analogous figure in the movie is called Terence Mann. It is hard to judge how significant it is that Kinsella, a Canadian, so intensely embraced and recreated the Theodicy-choked myth of American Baseball (few of his baseball stories are set in Canada); perhaps outsiders have an edge in longing. [For Afterlife and Theodicy see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below.]

Short stories with fantasy content are assembled in Red Wolf, Red Wolf (coll 1987), The Secret of the Northern Lights (coll 1998), and others; The Essential W P Kinsella (coll 2015) is a substantial selection. [JC]

William Patrick Kinsella

born Edmonton, Alberta: 25 May 1935

died Hope, British Columbia: 16 September 2016

works (selected)


Ray Kinsella/Gideon Clarke

individual titles

  • The Miss Hobbema Pageant (Toronto, Ontario: HarperCollins, 1991) [hb/]
  • Box Socials (Toronto, Ontario: HarperCollins, 1991) [hb/Wendell Minor]
  • The Winter Helen Dropped By (Toronto, Ontario: HarperCollins, 1995) [hb/Ron Berg]
  • Magic Time (Toronto, Ontario: Doubleday Canada, 1998) [hb/]
  • Butterfly Winter (Winnipeg, Manitoba: Enfield and Wizenty, 2011) [early versions first appeared: "The Battery" in The Thrill of the Grass (see below) and "Butterfly Winter" in Red Wolf, Red Wolf (see below): hb/]

collections and stories

works as editor


previous versions of this entry

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