Thursday, April 02, 2009

REVIEW: Faith and Fear in Flushing: An Intense Personal History of the New York Mets

I was fortunate enough to get a copy of this wonderful new book by dear friend and blolleague Greg Prince, who you may know from Faith and Fear in Flushing (along with his coblogger Jason, who has written a foreword).  

If you haven't ordered this from Amazon or B&N yet, well, why haven't you?  

The Coop is calling this the official "must-read" Mets fan memoir of the year, for any Mets fan who happens to be part of what I am calling the "Shea Generation."  I haven't spoken to him yet about why the need was there for the book now (because Greg has had this material for years), but I feel it is apropos with the death of the Old Grey Lady (or purple-escent blue) and the ascent into the new generation of CitiFieldom.  

It seems almost as if Greg was destined to become a Mets fan.  Born the same year the Mets were, his memoir chronicles the ups-and-downs associated with being a Mets fan, and the parallels to his own life.  

At times, the narrative is deeply personal, interwoven with life's inexplicable feelings and tied to his personal attachment to baseball and especially the Mets.

Although I know Greg on a Mets-fan personal level, and as a fellow cat-lover, there were a few things I didn't know until I read this book.  His relationship with his parents is a centered-theme, but what struck me was that there were no attachments to baseball from his folks -- he became a Mets fan all on his own while following the Miracle Mets in '69 as a six-year old.  

I think it was Stephen King who once said that those with a lyrical mind could not be Yankees fans.  Greg was intrigued with their Cinderella story - so it seems almost natural with his birth year coinciding with the actual birth of the team.

Later on, he was able to share his fandom with his parents, who picked up certain idiosyncracies of watching games with him (notably, his father reading the paper and ignoring the television, almost willing the team to do well).  I have to say there were some tearjerkers in the book, especially regarding his mother.  Knowing Greg and his writing from FAFIF, it should come as no surprise that he would let us in on this deeply personal part of his life.

Not that it was all tears (though being a lifelong Mets fan provides you with ample opportunity of that, hee hee).  I have to say I laughed like a lunatic on his chapter of Yankee fans.  His characterization of the "types" (because there is not just one) left me thinking that yes, these are all the types of Yankees fans.  Good job on that one, Greg.

Some lines even hit close to home about my personal passion of the Mets.  During the late 1990s, and especially in 1999, Greg wrote to the effect that the Mets had their fate in their own hands, which was something you didn't necessarily want.  In the last two seasons, hasn't this been the case?  

And even the connections you form with the fans, simply because you are fans.  That is the theme of my own site here, because you find people who hope and believe as much as you do, for no other reason but TO hope and TO believe.   When people would ask me why I was a Mets fan during the down times, I knew that when they did win, it made going through the hard times worthwhile.  

When Greg talks about knowing he was on the precipice of witnessing something great in the late 90s, he was shocked at the amount (or lack thereof) of fans in the stadium -- thus giving credence to my philosophy that the best times to go to the ballpark is when the team is bad or simply "ok."  The true fans come out then.  

Greg lends his voice not just on FAFIF but in the memoir to be the voice of the Mets fan, and he seems completely comfortable in doing so.  To get sappy for a minute here, I just want to say that it's fans like Greg Prince that make me so happy and proud to be a Mets fan...and therefore, happy to be alive!!  He truly understands the need to form connections through fandom and does so deftly.  

So again I ask - if you haven't bought this book yet...why?  FAFIF: AIPHOTNYM is the perfect obituary of the Shea Generation, and ushers in a new generation of summer families at CitiField.

And I'm not saying that because I'm biased, or because he mentioned The Coop in his acknowledgements section.  Truly an honor, but I totally would have read it anyway, natch.

Thumbs up, Greg.  And thank you for writing this for us!!! 

There will also be a reading at Varsity Letter on the Lower East Side.  

1 comment:

DyHrdMET said...

i've enjoyed the few chapters that I've read so far. the chapter TAKING IT PERSONALLY is the best written piece on Mets history that I've seen anywhere.