Kerry Zukus

Titles:  "The Fourth House"  ::  "Spartan Life"


Spartan Life - click to enlarge

 "To call Spartan Life a book about baseball is to miss the point, for it could be set within almost any world."

       Rico Avila is an underachieving Everyman who awakens one day with a unique personal philosophy: the difference between him and more successful people is that they focus all their efforts and energies on one singular pursuit, while people like him do a little of everything and none of it too well. And so, he sets out on a solitary mid-life journey of finding and then honing that one narrowly-defined thing he might be able to do better than it’s ever been done before: hitting a baseball. Not catching, throwing, or running, but simply hitting. For the next three years, he blocks out everything and everyone, directing every calorie of effort and second of time toward this one goal.

      Shortly before Rico is about to lose all humanity and perspective entirely, Stephen Cordalis, a brilliant yet floundering high-functioning autistic, stumbles into his life. Rico takes Stephen in, convincing himself that by doing so, he has found the perfect roommate – someone to split the bills yet, due to his disability, won’t bother him by insisting upon a friendship or having a social life. Ironically, Rico strives to create in himself the handicap that Stephen has been born with – going through life in a perfectly straight line with blinders on.

      Through a wild series of adventures involving crushing disappointments and exhilarating personal victories, Rico sets out to become a major league baseball player. But does he become a major league human being?

      Like The Natural meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Rico and Stephen’s journey together is a Steinbeckian tale of the plans “of mice and men.” Spartan Life gives us a George and Lenny for the new millennium.

Click HERE for an excerpt from "Spartan Life" in PDF format.
{If you need to download Acrobat Reader, click here}


       Families have cultures other than simply race, religion, and ethnicity. There are literary families, firefighter families, furniture store families, and an infinite number of others.

Lewis Rader - click to enlargeMine is a baseball family. The man pictured to the left is my great-grandfather, Lewis Rader. Some say he was the greatest pitcher they ever saw. Unfortunately, he lived in a time when one had to choose between being a family man and being a baseball man. In the 1890s, the pay was horrific, the life nomadic, and the future unpredictable. Pitching is an unnatural act, the arm a ticking time bomb that can go off at any moment. My great-grandfather turned down the major league scouts and instead stayed within the perceived security of the coal mines of eastern Pennsylvania, where he was nearly cut in two when he slipped beneath a railroad car and died at the age of 39.

      To call Spartan Life a book about baseball is to miss the point, for it could be set within almost any world. But without my family, it could not be quite exactly the book that it is.

      I spent my childhood at the knee of my grandfather, Lewis Rader’s son, who told me eyewitness tales of Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Jimmy Foxx and others. Our black and white television set got only half a dozen channels, among them WPIX out of New York, which carried almost every game of the team he loved to hate, the New York Yankees. I’d ask him, “The Phillies and the Mets are on other channels. If you hate the Yankees so much, why do we always have to watch them?”

      “To see them lose.”

      It tickled him to no end when I went to college in Boston and never missed a single Red Sox home stand -- any American League city except New York.

      I dedicate this book to my grandfather and to his father and to all the other baseball loving Raders in my family. Without them, this would certainly be another book entirely, for we are a baseball family.

Click HERE for an excerpt from "Spartan Life" in PDF format.
{If you need to download Acrobat Reader, click here}



Home Biography Product Blog My Favorites Contact