Book Review: "Living The Dream"

living the dream

How, exactly, are you supposed to review a book in which you play a fairly significant role?

That's not intended to be boastful, but if you pick up a copy of Jim McArdle's "Living The Dream", you will learn more about me than I have ever revealed on this website.

Why is that? Because Jim quit his job as editor of Vine Line to "live the dream", that is, to experience the 2008 Cub season from both the inside -- he was credentialed and so did many interviews with Cubs players, coaches and Lou Piniella -- and the outside, sharing it with fans in the bleachers and elsewhere. I had known Jim for a couple of years, having written some articles for him at Vine Line, and so he wound up hanging out in the bleachers with our group on many days, and in addition, with other people in the bleachers who are also my friends. In that sense, it's a chronicle of our time in the bleachers, how we watch each game, win or lose, how we pass the time when things get dull or slow, how we exult in the victories and commiserate together in the defeats. I've mentioned the names of many people you'll see in the book here at BCB, and you will also meet some others I haven't -- all of them have interesting stories of how they came to be bleacherites, and how we view ourselves as family out there, especially those of us whose families outside of the ballpark aren't that large.

But it's more than that -- Jim spent time on rooftops, in the box seats with season-ticket holders of 45 years' time, and in the upper deck and other sections of the park with many other longtime fans. You may recognize some of those names, too, but even if you don't, they are representative of all of us. If it's not you, it's someone just like you, with all your hopes and dreams of however many years you have been a Cubs fan.

Jim also writes some history of Wrigleyville -- where he's lived for many years, including last year in the dark-brown building just across Waveland from my seat in the LF corner (the last building with no rooftop club; "Landlady Lara", who inherited the building from her folks, wants to keep it that way); we used to wave at him as he was writing on his sun porch and there's a funny story about pizza and that building that I'll make you wait to read the book to find out about.

And, it's a chronicle of the 2008 season, its joys and failures, told from the perspective both of the players and of the fans whose hopes were raised to heights not seen for perhaps seven decades, only to see them crushed in cruel fashion in three October days. Jim hoped to live the victorious dream and write about it -- and, unfortunately, neither that nor some other "endings" in the book are happy ones. Nevertheless, the tone is still upbeat, even as it ends with sadness.

Incidentally, though the cover photo (shown) looks like a Photoshop creation, it's not; on a beautiful September day while the Cubs were out of town, Jim and a couple of his buddies actually dragged his desk onto the field so they could take the picture.

Finally, tonight at Harry Caray's in Wrigleyville (3551 N. Sheffield, Jim is hosting a launch party for the book from 6 to 9 pm. For $30 you can meet Jim, get a signed copy of the book, and have food & drink. Unfortunately, I have to miss this party, as I'll be on a plane landing at O'Hare just about 7 tonight. I know you understand, Jim. It was great sharing the 2008 season with you -- here's to October wins this year, and see you on Monday.

My highest recommendation for "Living The Dream" -- and I'd say that even if I weren't in it.

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