Books: Echoing Ring

BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY (243 pp.)—Mark Harris—Knopf ($3.50).

It was Ring Lardner who made the first serious attempt in fiction to find out if baseball players are people. His answer in the You Know Me, Al stories could be boiled down to yes, with reservations. Now, 40 years later, both sportswriters and novelists seem to have fewer reservations. In Bernard Malamud's The Natural (TIME, Sept. 8, 1952), there was the mystical intimation that major-leaguers might even have souls. In Bang the Drum Slowly, Novelist Mark (The Southpaw) Harris modestly stays closer to the bag....

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