A collection of essays for ardent seamheads and casual baseball fans alike, The Utility of Boredom is a book about finding respite and comfort in the order, traditions, and rituals of baseball. It’s a sport that shows us what a human being might be capable of, with extreme dedication—whether we're eating hot dogs in the stands, waiting out a fog delay in our living rooms, or practising the lost art of catching a stray radio signal from an out-of-market broadcast. From learning about America through ball-diamond visits to the most famous triple play that never happened on Canadian soil, Forbes invites us to witness the adult conversing with the O-Pee-Chee baseball cards of his youth. Tender, insightful, and with the slow heartbreak familiar to anyone who’s cheered on a losing team, The Utility of Boredom tells us a thing or two about the sport, and how a seemingly trivial game might help us make sense of our messy lives.
Andrew Forbes is the author of the story collections Lands and Forests (Invisible Publishing, 2019) and What You Need (2015), which was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, and named a finalist for the Trillium Book Prize. He is also the author of The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays (2016). Forbes lives in Peterborough, Ontario.
“Baseball’s an exercise in concentration, a chance to train the brain to ignore the echoes of other forms of entertainment offering easier enticements. You sit through nine innings because that’s how long a game is and you want to watch a game. You sit through blowouts. You endure a game devoid of offense and call it a pitchers’ duel. .. This is your quiet commitment. This is your loyalty and your investment, your faith that every recess and concavity will eventually be mirrored by something amazing. ”
"Baseball, like life, is getting flattened out these days, compressed to noisy highlight clips and shrill pontification. This book cures that flattening, reaching with grace and poetry past all the bludgeoning hot takes and arid statistical analyses to the kinds of absurd and beautiful details—a spectacular throw from deep right; a meandering spring training game; a foul grounder bounding up into the stands, right at you—that first made us all fall in love with the sport. If baseball, like heaven, is a mansion with many rooms, the essays in The Utility of Boredom are like a fat set of janitor’s keys unlocking the wide open marvels of the game. " - Josh Wilker, Cardboard Gods and Benchwarmer: A Sports-Obsessed Memoir of Fatherhood
— Josh Wilker
“Baseball is a welcome obsession of mine, a comfort. Reading Utility of Boredom by Andrew Forbes fed that obsession beautifully, warmly. It glows. He writes of baseball as sanctuary, baseball in both general terms and specifics—from the feeling of walking into a ballpark on a summer day to Vin Scully’s perfect description of a cloud. He invites us to get on our tiptoes and peek over the fence, smell the grass, hear the crack of the bat. He respects the slow-glory of the game, he loves the game, he’s really good at this, and I absolutely trust him with my baseball-heart. ” - Leesa Cross-Smith, Every Kiss A War
— Leesa Cross-Smith
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