- Paperback: 324 pages
- Publisher: Picador; First edition (Oct. 5 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312276974
- ISBN-13: 978-0312276973
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 21.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 481 g
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #4,608,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
How All This Started: A Novel Paperback – Oct 5 2001
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“[How All This Started] is really about the mystery and terrible beauty of families and about learning what you don't know.” ―USA Today
“Raw and immediate. Abilene drives what becomes a suspenseful, heartbreaking, and ultimately redemptive adventure in growing up.” ―Philadelphia Inquirer
“Pete Fromm's first novel lays bare the raw nerve of love.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“A wistful, moving first novel...a powerful and promising debut from a diligent writer” ―Kirkus Reviews
“How All This Started offers a vivid perspective from the pitcher's mound, in this case, from the West Texas desert. A gutsy effort in the manner of McGuane and McMurtry, full of mesquite, cresote and one girl's violent encounters with herself.” ―Los Angeles Times
About the Author
Pete Fromm is the author, most recently, of Night Swimming, a critically-acclaimed collection of short stories. He has published over one hundred stories, earning nominations for the Pushcart Prize, among other honors. He lives with his family in Great Falls, Montana.
Top customer reviews
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I could have understood the story better if Abilene's compulsion to train Austin had happened after her experience with her high-school team (she gets rejected, and her brother gets to potentially vindicate her humiliation, plus she gets to live vicariously through him). But the five-year difference is not enough to make Abilene behave like a pushy mother.
Austin has bratty moments, like any teenager. However, the disdain he feels towards his parents is compounded by his desire to please Abilene, who truly despises them. One of the most interesting moments in the book for me is when Austin comes to terms with who his parents are, and stops seeing them as pathetic individuals. At that moment he steps into maturity (although he had already breached his way into it when he realized that Abilene was not invincible).
Something I liked is that the key dramatic moment in the story (the guns episode) did not go where I thought it was going. I appreciate it when a writer keeps me on my toes. Still, my shortcomings as a reader kept me from giving this novel a higher score.
The story hinges around baseball. The two are bonded together against their parents by their love of baseball. Abilene is going to get Austin to the big leagues. Their hero is Nolan Ryan. Problems arise when Abilene exhibits manic depressive behavior. The "fireballers" can pitch. Abilene would have been a good pitcher for the Pecos Eagles, but her teammates wouldn't play with her. She wants to make sure that Austin makes it.
Austin demonstrates confusion about proper brother/sister relationship, and has difficulty understanding her bipolar illness. What happens when the hero proves to be fallible? How do you tell right from wrong when your hero just might be wrong?
As a first novel, Fromm continues his good writing from his collections of short stories in "Dry Rain," "The Tall Uncut," and "Blood Knot." At times perhaps, the book appears to be an extended short story, but Fromm neatly wraps the parts together into the novel. If you have not read any of his short stories perhaps you should read one first. The book was a gripper. Once I got started, I had to continue reading until finished.
The beauty and grace are supplied by Pete Fromm, whose novel is filled with insights and surprises from the first page. What makes it the more remarkable is that the story is told by Austin, a high school sophomore in middle-of-nowhere, Texas, whose world view has been shaped entirely by his bipolar older sister, Abilene.
This is a fine novel on so many levels. It's a love story, a tragic love story set in the vast emptiness of West Texas, where everything is simple except for the people. It's a sports story, with an ambitious coach (Abilene) with an ax to grind jealously guarding her young phenom (Austin) out of love, hope and desperation, all of which are as twisted as a mesquite trunk. It's a story of a family whose love is under a blistering attack by mental illness, obsession and misunderstanding.
Most importantly, it's written with compassion, empathy and a delicacy of language that makes us hope that Fromm will keep producing for a long, long time. Put him in the ranks of Annie Proulx and Larry McMurtry. Come again, soon, Pete.
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