"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

No Funny Stuff


Our boy Josh Wilker, whose book dropped earlier this week, was featured in Bats, the baseball blog over at the Times yesterday. Greg Hanlon writes:

The memoir follows Wilker, now 42, into his adulthood, most of which he characterizes as a series of failures for a would-be writer. Having long since stopped collecting baseball cards, Wilker found himself lost and adrift, with childhood’s “unbroken ladder of years seemingly aimed in the direction of the gods” having dissipated.

In 1999, in search of fulfillment and literary inspiration, he moved for a year into a Vermont cabin without electricity or running water while teaching creative writing at a small state college. Without much else in the way of stimulation, he found himself staring at his baseball cards by a kerosene lamp. The childhood memories stirred up by the cards inspired him to write. By turning to his cardboard gods, Wilker found his voice as a writer. His blog followed a few years later, followed by the book deal. (In addition to his writing, Wilker works part-time as an editor and proofreader, and lives in Chicago.)

Wilker counts Frederick Exley, author of “A Fan’s Notes,” a fictionalized memoir weaving his New York Giants super-fandom around tales of his alcoholism and mental illness, as one of his literary heroes. Exley’s influence is apparent in “Cardboard Gods.” Both narratives are steeped in the authors’ feelings of failure, but they end on a triumphant note that is the writing of the books themselves. “Cardboard Gods” is also a worthy descendant of “A Fan’s Notes” in showing that when it comes to sportswriting, what the games mean to its fans is often more interesting than the games themselves.

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1 thelarmis   ~  Apr 15, 2010 2:56 pm

Wilker might be my favorite writer. i'm so glad he was part of the toaster and i'm so happy for him about this book. i read cardboard gods all the time - today, there's a great post about Yaz there.

i've been following everything about his book. this week has been tough to read every link, since there have been so many with the book release. i plan to get it soon and for months now, it has been my birthday present idea for my big brother - who got me into baseball, baseball cards and the yankees (not to mention music, which is my livelihood and life). i'll be handing that off to him in about 6 weeks.

congrats, Josh - you're the best!

2 unmoderated   ~  Apr 15, 2010 3:11 pm

Shoot, I missed the opening date. I was lucky to get an advanced proof, loved it... but I want to see all the glossy photos.

3 RIYank   ~  Apr 15, 2010 3:22 pm

Yeah, Josh was one of the great things about the Toaster. (Of course, as soon as I type that I remember Ken Arneson, Zimmerman, Weisman...) If only all Red Sox writers were like him!

4 RIYank   ~  Apr 15, 2010 3:25 pm

Also, great game going on in Minneapolis.
I'm not quite entirely unmitigatedly happy about it, because the Yanks are going to have to face Liriano at some point, and man, he's back. Yikes.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Apr 15, 2010 3:48 pm

Hey, I'm going to do a Q&A with Josh. If you've got any questions you'd like me to ask him, fire away, either leave 'em here or shoot me an e-mail...Ya Hoid?

6 joejoejoe   ~  Apr 15, 2010 5:33 pm

I frequent a bar about 1 block from Wrigley in Chicago. I'll bet if Josh wanted to do a book signing there they would be happy to have him. He was one of the best parts of the Toaster. I'm almost the exact same age as Josh so his memories really struck home. I not only had similar memories, I had the same darn cards!

I remember things like making an all-star team of my cards, about 100 of them that I got one or two packs at a time with my Mom at the local drug store, and having no 3rd basemen of any note and having to start Eric Soderholm. Like Scott Brosius in '98 in real life, somebody had to hit 9th in my imaginary all-stars.

7 thelarmis   ~  Apr 15, 2010 7:14 pm

[5] great! shit, i've had ?'s for him. for some reason, it failed when i tried to set up an account at his site. i never comment anywhere else but here, but i attempted to do so at cardboard gods. i've been tempted just to email him, but i don't wanna bother him. hopefully i'll remember some of the thoughts i had. either way, thanks in advance for the upcoming Q&A - can't wait for it!

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver