Having just read “Confessions of a She-Fan: The Course of True Love with the New York Yankees,” at this moment, I am really digging its author, Jane Heller.
First, Jane is a kindred spirit – like me, she’s a baseball addict going back to when she was a youngin. And, like so many of us Yankees fans, she’s a zealot. Jane doesn’t sleep well when the Yankees are scuffling. And, her days are much better, overall, when the Yanks are winning.
Back in May 2007, as were many Yankees fans, Heller was vexed with the way the Yankees started their season that year. Looking to vent, she dashed off an e-mail to the New York Times saying that she was “divorcing the New York Yankees.” Well, the Times elected to publish Jane’s e-mail and then all heck broke loose for her. Yankees fans, Red Sox fans, shoot, you name it, came at her with fangs and claws out in attack mode – questioning her fandom and the like. (Don’t sweat it Jane, it happens to the best of us.)
A few weeks after her e-mail was published in the Times, Heller got an idea to do a book, about the Yankees 2007 season, where she (and her husband) would travel with the team, watch every game in every city, do some interviews, and hopefully prove (to some people) that she was a true Yankees fan. And, the result of that book idea is “Confessions of a She-Fan.”
With the book, Jane does an excellent job of chronicling the Yankees 2007 season – starting from Opening Day and going right through the off-season of 2007-08. But, this is not just a dry reporting of game events and news, etc. What you hear when you ready Heller’s words is the voice of diehard fan sharing what they are experiencing, thinking, and feeling. And, Jane mixes in enough “personal” stuff to provide the reader with some background on her life that provides the reader with perspective on “Jane Heller, the person.”
Heller’s narrative style in “Confessions of a She-Fan” is casual, sometimes bawdy, often funny, and very gripping. Tying back to that last part, I have to share something, with regard to reading Heller’s book, which is the highest compliment that I can offer to a book – I could not put it down once I started reading it.
In fact, I found “Confessions of a She-Fan” to be so entertaining that I went out of my way to find time to read it. I read it during commercials as I watched my favorite T.V. shows. I stayed up late at night, to read it. There were a couple of days where I was late for work – because I was reading Jane’s book while I was eating breakfast and I kept on reading it way past when I was done eating and should have left for work. If that’s not gripping, what is?
What I found most interesting in Heller’s story – but not shocking – was the major league stiff arm that she got from the Yankees when she asked the team for access to the ballpark, pressbox, players, etc. And, while Jane was able to get time with many of the media members that we know well – such as Peter Abraham, Mark Feinsand, Tyler Kepner, George King, Sweeny Murti, Kat O’Brien, and John Sterling – she also got the run-around from the likes of Kim Jones, and, to an extent, Suzyn Waldman. (Who would have thought this to be true – considering the gender connection, etc.?)
But, also, I enjoyed how Heller, through her journey in 2007, from meeting other fans, was reminded that there are other ways to be a diehard fan – as she writes “to believe in a team unconditionally and without reservation, to experience the magic of the game without vitriol or a sense of entitlement, to be gracious in both victory and defeat.” There’s a lesson in there for many Yankees fans who may have lost sight of this approach over the last few years – including an irascible and somewhat curmudgeon blogger such as myself.
All-in-all, I am very glad that I had to an opportunity to read Jane Heller’s new book. To be candid, being a “dude,” I was not sure if I would enjoy reading a book entitled “Confessions of a She-Fan.” However, as stated, I truly found it to be a great read – and highly recommend it to everyone, even if they’re not a Yankees fan. (I once said that even a Yankees fan could enjoy the movie “Fever Pitch” – despite the fact that it centers around the worst nightmare even for a Yankees fan – because a diehard fan could appreciate what another diehard fan goes through. And, I believe that a diehard fan of a team other than the Yankees will feel the same way when reading Jane’s book.)
And, no matter how you felt about her New York Times feature back in May of 2007, if you read “Confessions of a She-Fan: The Course of True Love with the New York Yankees,” expect yourself to become a fan of Jane Heller – just like I am now.