Both the literary and the sports worlds are mourning the death of W.P. Kinsella, the Canadian author who penned “Shoeless Joe,” the inspiration behind the movie ‘Field of Dreams.’
“Shoeless Joe” was Kinsella’s first novel and one that he is most famous for. It told the story of an Iowa farmer who, after hearing someone tell him “Build it and they will come,” builds a baseball field right in his corn field. The rest is absolute literary and Hollywood magic. If you’re a sports fan and haven’t heard of “Shoeless Joe” or ‘Field of Dreams,’ stop reading this post right now and read the book and watch the movie. Seriously. Come back when you’re done.
‘Field of Dreams” stars Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, and Burt Lancaster in his final role. The movie was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. It’s an iconic sports movie. The American Film Institute revealed its “Ten Top Ten” — the best ten films in ten “classic” American film genres. The film was acknowledged as the sixth best one in the fantasy genre.
Kinsella says that he based one of the characters in “Shoeless Joe” on J.D. Salinger, author of ‘Catcher in the Rye’ a book and author he loved. “I made sure to make him a nice character so that he couldn’t sue me,” Kinsella once said.
Kinsella also wrote the Iowa Baseball Confederacy about a baseball game that a minor league played against the 1908 World’s Champion Chicago Cubs. Box Socials was published in 1991, and it was about a local batting hero’s who wants to visit a major league pitcher 60 miles away.
According to W.P. Kinsella’s website he was born William Patrick Kinsella in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1935. “Though he had been writing since he was a child, winning a YMCA contest at age fourteen, he began taking writing courses at the University of Victoria in 1970, receiving his bachelor of arts in creative writing in 1974. In 1978 he earned a master of fine arts in English through the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Before becoming a professional author, he was a professor of English at the University of Calgary.
“Shoeless Joe” won the Canadian Authors Association Prize, the Alberta Achievement Award, the Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. Bill won the Leacock Award in 1987 and in 1993 was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2005, he was awarded the Order of British Columbia, and in 2009, he was awarded the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award. Kinsella has been presented with honorary degrees from Laurentian University, University of Victoria, and the Open Learning Institute.’
If you’re a fan of Field of Dreams, you might want to plan a vacation to Dyersville, Iowa. The Lansing Family Farm was the site of the famous 1989 baseball movie that started Kevin Costner and was responsible for one of the most well-known phrases in movies: “If you build it they will come.” It was a cold day in late December 1987, when a volunteer with the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce (working in conjunction with the Iowa Film Board), Sue Reidel, knocked on the door bringing Don Lansing to his feet. A stranger at his door would explain, “We’re thinking of making a movie in the area on a farm. It possibly could be your farm. Would you allow us to take video of the environs?”
Kinsella once said,
“Growing up is a ritual, more deadly than religion,
more complicated than baseball, for there seem to be no rules.
Everything is experienced for the first time.”
Here are a few tweets after Mr. Kinsella’s death was announced.
— Everythin’ Bunky (@EverythinBunky) September 17, 2016
— NapFanForLife (@Tx_Baseball_Fan) September 17, 2016
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