Sports novels have a bit of a closed-off reputation to those not familiar with the rules and formalities of the game.
That goes double for sports novels set in specific real-world locales, where a whole layer of subtext can go unrecognized by outsiders.
It’s for these reasons that local author David Bohr’s first novel “The Pride of Central,” a baseball tale set here in Lebanon County, is an impressive entry into the genre – the content and plot are compelling regardless of the reader’s background knowledge.
Focusing on a (fictionalized) Lebanon team called the Central and several of its players, the novel follows the team’s rising star as they compete and dream of national fame. While the series of games unfold, the personal dramas of the players and their relationship to a new mentor play out on the sidelines. The mentor, Jonas, seems to know more about the players than should be possible. The relationships of friends, partners, family, and coaches grow and change as the characters face their futures.
Though the plot is explicitly set in Lebanon County, the names of various fields, teams, and landmarks have been obscured, adding an enjoyable but not crucially important game of identification to the novel for those who can recognize them based on context clues. “No one wants to be the team that finishes in last place, or the team that has one of the bad guys on it, so I altered all the team names,” explained Bohr in an email to LebTown.
Baseball fans will likely get the most out of the passages describing the games, though Bohr’s breezy, comfortable prose keeps the action moving, so to speak, even for readers not familiar with the sport. Similarly, Lebanon natives will have an extra level of insight to the subtextual themes regarding local history and events.
“Every major character and every major event in ‘The Pride of Central’ is in some way symbolic of a historical person or event,” said Bohr.
Ultimately, though, fiction should be judged on its characters, themes, plot, and prose, and ‘The Pride of Central’ has got these bases covered.
The book will be available for purchase and autographs at the author’s upcoming events:
- Monday, May 20, 6 PM : Discussion and book signing at the Lebanon Library
- Tuesday, June 4, 6 PM : Discussion and book signing at the Palmyra Library