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Fans watching the 2004 baseball playoffs were often treated to shots of Stephen King sitting in the stands, notebook in hand. Given the bizarre events on the field, from the Red Sox's unprecedented comeback against their most hated rivals to their ace pitcher's bleeding, stitched-together ankle--not to mention the Sox's first championship in 86 years--you could be forgiven for thinking King was writing the script as he went along, passing new plot twists down to the dugouts between innings.

What he was writing, though, along with his friend and fellow novelist Stewart O'Nan, was Faithful, a diary of the 2004 Red Sox season. Faithful is written not from inside the clubhouse or the press room, but from the outside, from the stands and the sofa in front of the TV, by two fans who, like the rest of New England, have lived and died (mostly died) with the Sox for decades. From opposite ends of Red Sox Nation, King in Maine and O'Nan at the border of Yankees country in Connecticut, they would meet in the middle at Fenway Park or trade emails from home about the games they'd both stayed up past midnight to watch. King (or, rather, "Steve") is emotional, O'Nan (or "Stew") is obsessively analytical. Steve, as the most famous Sox fan who didn't star in Gigli, is a folk hero of sorts, trading high fives with doormen and enjoying box seats better than John Kerry's, while Stew is an anonymous nomad, roving all over the park. (Although he's such a shameless ballhound that he gains some minor celebrity as "Netman" when he brings a giant fishing net to hawk batting-practice flies from the top of the Green Monster.)

You won't find any of the Roger Angell-style lyricism here that baseball, and the Sox in particular, seem to bring out in people. (King wouldn't stand for it.) Instead, this is the voice of sports talk radio: two fans by turns hopeful, distraught, and elated, who assess every inside pitch and every waiver move as a personal affront or vindication. Full of daily play-by-play and a season's rises and falls, Faithful isn't self-reflective or flat-out funny enough to become a sports classic like Fever Pitch, Ball Four, or A Fan's Notes, but like everything else associated with the Red Sox 2004 season, from the signing of Curt Schilling to Dave Roberts's outstretched fingers, it carries the golden glow of destiny. And, of course, it's got a heck of an ending. --Tom Nissley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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ISBN-10:  0743267532
ISBN-13:  978-0743267533
Author:  Stewart O'Nan
Publisher:  Scribner
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review by . June 12, 2011
Pros: player info     Cons: confusing writers ... who was who?     The Bottom Line:    "Because I love that dirty water  Oh, oh, Boston, you're my home (oh, yeah)"  Standells         A few years ago I couldn’t spell baseball fan, now I are one … that’s the entire giddy up of Faithful by Stewart O’Nan and Stephen King.     I’ll admit …
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Faithful: Two Diehard Boston Red Sox Fans
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