By James Sturm (Drawn & Quarterly Publications)
ISBN 10: 1-89659-771-8
ISBN 13: 978-1-896597-71-3
Set in the 1920s American Heartland, James Sturm’s The Golem’s Mighty Swing harks back to happier, darker times in American history to relate a tale of the early, less enlightened days of baseball. These were times when every city and most towns had ball teams, but also when non-white, non-Christian sportsmen were barred from competing with “Real Americans”.
The Stars of David are a Jewish ball team, barely eking out a living touring the country, capitalising on their ethnicity to attract the local yokels to the games – and their livelihood. So when a sharp four-flushing promoter makes them a degrading yet potentially lucrative offer…
Hiring a Black player and billing him as a son of the “Lost Tribe of Israel” is incautious, but the hype goes too far when he is touted as an actual Golem – a clay statue animated by Rabbinical magic. Things go terribly wrong during a game when the spectacle-starved ball-fans riot, enflamed by stupidity and the anti-Semitic racism that was so much a part of that era.
It’s a beautifully rendered and powerfully compelling book, powerfully evocative, fearsomely authentic and subversively underplayed for maximum effect. Sturm’s art is subtle and simple relating a sad yet oddly life-affirming tale.
You can read this superb book as a parable about race, culture, integration or human nature… just as long as you do read it.
© 2003 James Sturm. All Rights Reserved.