Baseball, Bebop, Human Rights, and Freedom Movements in a New Short-Story Collection

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If you missed Michelle Obama’s powerful speech at the Democratic National Convention last night, catch it here. She vividly summed up “the story of America” by anchoring it in the lives of “all those folks who sacrificed and overcame so much.” “The story of America” is an expansive phrase that calls up endless places, people, and subplots, and it’s the subject of Mark Ruffin’s brilliant short-story collection about justice and equality in baseball and music. Bebop Fairy Tales is his first book in his 40-year career as a radio broadcaster, most recently a SiriusXM host, and it’s a detail-rich work of historical fiction that sets real athletes and artists in imagined circumstances.

One climactic story, “The Sidewinder,” alludes to Lee Morgan’s 1964 album and takes us to Philly, where a 12-year-old explores his passion for baseball and bebop and navigates racial, cultural, and class lines. The story arc is challenging and risk-taking, all the brilliance you can expect from Ruffin (who once wrote a screenplay in which Fats Waller is kidnapped by Al Capone). Michelle Obama here, Ruffin here, “The Sidewinder” here.

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Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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