The Beckoning World is set in the first quarter of the twentieth century and follows Earl Dunham. His weeks are comprised of six days mining coal, followed by Sundays playing baseball. Then one day a major-league scout happens on a game, signs Earl, and he begins a life he had no idea he could even dream.
But dreams sometimes suffer from a lovely abundance, and in Earl’s case her name is Emily Marchand. They fall quickly and deeply in love, but with that love comes heartbreaking complications.
The Beckoning World gathers a cast of characters that include Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig; a huge-hearted Pullman steward offering aphoristic wisdom; and countless others, not least of which is the 1918 Spanish flu taking vivid spectral form. At the center is a relentless love that Earl and Emily are defenseless against, allied as they are “in this business of their hearts.”
“It’s been said that beyond being a storyteller, the novelist is also by default a sociologist, a historian, and a psychologist. And if they are any good, they are a magician too. Douglas Bauer is all these things in this expansive, insightful portrayal of the life and times of Earl Dunham, a coal miner turned baseball pitcher turned farmer. Ranging across the first half of the twentieth century, The Beckoning World gives us this man’s story, the long love of his life, Emily Marchand, and his son, Henry. The book provides a vision of American life and legend—Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are vividly portrayed—but most importantly, through Bauer’s sorcery, it provides a bright window into the nature of love itself, familial and passionate, abiding, and, yes, going through the ‘blunt work’ of survival in all weathers.”—Richard Bausch
“A rich, enthralling read. The characters and the world stayed with me long after I closed the covers.”—Dennis Lehane
“The Beckoning World does beckon, unfolding lives and enfolding readers with love stories, all the heartbreaks we cannot outrun, the lucky and unlucky life of a family and a world past. Bauer sees with telescope and microscope, inner and outer world shared with loving clarity and an open brilliant elegance.”—Amy Bloom, author, In Love
“The Beckoning World seems at first a throwback: a novel that celebrates the rock-solid values of a bygone America as we track its protagonist from the coal mines to the stunning good fortune of a ride-along on a barnstorming tour with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. But it turns out to be quietly subversive about our relationship to our aspirations—both as a nation and as individuals—as well as the way love—both eros and caritas—just keeps coming for us. Doug Bauer has a wonderful ability to celebrate who we were without losing sight of all those ways in which we fell short of who we hoped we’d become.”—Jim Shepard, author, The Book of Aron