Heart of the Order
Winner of the Virginia Prize for Fiction, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and Named one of the 10 Best Sports Books 1986 by the National Sports Review
A novel of passion and obsession, Heart of the Order is the story of Danny (“Kiss of the Wolf”) Bacigalupo, a baseball player from the alleys of Chicago's North Side, whose life and career are shaped by a tragic childhood accident.
Danny knows about guilt from the stern Irish women in black hoods and floor-length robes, but their words don't move him—not until the death of Mickey Meenan. It was an accident: A line drive off Danny's bat collided with young Mickey's Adam's apple. Danny manages to shake the accident, but he can't shake the presence of Mickey. Even after fourteen years of pro ball he doesn't know whether he's Mickey or Danny, a swinger for the fences or a player who hits safely.
A magic realism informs the novel and takes the form of a monologue from a father to his son. The book's first half focuses on the love between Danny and another memorable outsider, Grace Jankowski—the fat girl with the beautiful eyes. The second half reveals the tough world of minor-league baseball and Danny's friendship with a black shortstop named Book Johnson. Throughout both sections of the novel, baseball becomes a personal crucible as Danny struggles to find himself and a single identity.
Novelist David Bradley, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, praised "the wisdom and humor of the novel's narrative voice and the stylistic risks that have transformed this straightforward story into art." A section of the novel appeared in TriQuarterly magazine. Heart of the Order establishes the author as a major novelist in a class with Bernard Malamud and Mark Harris.
-- Henry Holt and Company jacket copy
"With Heart of the Order, Tony Ardizzone has carved his niche among writers who have written great baseball fiction....Ardizzone's book is part comedy, part tragedy, all baseball."
-- USA Today
"For better or worse, any 'serious' baseball novel will be measured against the late Bernard Malamud's The Natural. Happily, Tony Ardizzone's new baseball-drenched allegory, Heart of the Order, belongs in the same league....Ardizzone's nonstop stream of comic but revealing baseball metaphors elevates dugout chatter to something approaching poetry. This is one of the rare books that can make you laugh out loud, all the while scoring some serious points about the games that really matter."
-- Sports Illustrated
"Ardizzone writes with razor-sharp beauty. There's an electricity, an excitement in his prose. Heart of the Order is upbeat but never trite, an honorable novel about love, decency and redemption. As they say on the old diamond, Tony Ardizzone can play some."
--- Philadelphia Inquirer
"A talented young writer with just one previous book to his credit, Tony Ardizzone has now entered the literary major leagues with two new works of fiction—an impressive collection of stories and an intriguing novel about baseball—appearing in the same season....The writing [in Heart of the Order] is lively, inventive, skillfully paced....And the story itself, marked by the same compassion and nostalgia found in Ardizzone's short stories, has moments of undeniable power....Few readers will come away unaffected by the travails of Ardizzone's engaging young hero."
--- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Ardizzone is a naturally engaging writer, with a graceful, muscular style, an impressive arsenal of baseball lore, and some sharp comic moves."
--- Chicago Tribune
"Tony Ardizzone's previous works, impressive as they may have been, should take a back seat to this thoughtful and realistic novel. The author has chose a difficult structure -- a father talking to his son -- but brings it to life through the clarity of his descriptions and the emotion conveyed as he tells about the things he did and the things that were done to him....Heart of the Order is an exceptionally well-written novel that some believe will catapult the author into the top ranks of the nation's serious writers."
-- Toledo Blade
"Baseball as a metaphor for life has been a popular literary theme recently. Joining the line-up is Tony Ardizzone's Heart of the Order, an amazing and redemptive tale of magic realism....Ardizzone takes a rather straightforward story and turns it into a metaphysical journey of the mind. His writing fuses into a marvelous blend of magic realism and blue collar reality."
--- San Antonio Express News