I usually resist reading novelizations of movies. Often hurriedly written, based completely on a movie script, novelizations are often marked by poor writing and a story less than satisfying than the movie itself. I particularly resist novelizations of movies I haven’t heard of, or that I’ve heard of but haven’t seen.
Home Run by Travis Thrasher is a bad example of the point I’m trying to make. I hadn’t seen or heard of the movie. And it’s ostensibly about baseball; I’m not a fan of sports novels. But I read this book. And I read simply because of the author who wrote it.
Chicago-based Thrasher is a fine writer. I’ve read nearly all of his books. Sky Blue (2007) is one of my favorite novels (I’ve read it twice, and it gets better the second time.) He’s written across a number of fiction genres, and does all of them very well indeed.
So I trusted the author and read Home Run, based on the script for the movie of the same name. And I met a hero who’s one of the most despicable human beings you’re likely to come across.
Corey Brand plays baseball for the Denver Grizzlies. If there’s one thing Corey knows how to do, it’s hit home runs. It may be the only admirable thing about him. Arrogant, unfeeling, uncaring, disconnected from his brother and his family. Drives fast cars, and drives them fast. Endless streams of women.
And alcohol. Corey Brand has a serious substance abuse problem. He’s in a hitting slump, and it’s contract renewal time.
His agent packs him off to Okmulgee, Oklahoma, his home town. He has to spend eight weeks in a rehab program. Even before he arrives in town, he totals his rental car and injures his brother in the process.
And in his hometown, Corey has to face and confront his past, including the dead father who’s verbal abuse drove Corey away and shaped him into what he’s become, good and bad. And he has to face and confront the girlfriend he left behind, the girlfriend who was pregnant.
Like I said, a pretty despicable human being.
But Thrasher tells a good story. He’s not content simply to pull from a movie script. He ads depth to the characters. He adds depth to the story. And what could have been just another thin novelization becomes a story worth telling and a story worth reading, about how a man learns forgiveness and finds redemption.
I was right to trust my gut about a Travis Thrasher story.
Here’s the official trailer for the movie (which I still haven’t seen, and I may not since I don’t want it to run the chance of it ruining the novelization).