William Steele

Going the Distance: The Life and Works of W.P. Kinsella

Kinsella’s work was thrust into the limelight when, in the spring of 1989, his novel Shoeless Joe was turned into the international blockbuster Field of Dreams. With the success of Shoeless Joe, Kinsella’s other works began to gain more attention as well, including a series of short stories narrated by a young Cree, Silas Ermineskin. Although many readers praised the stories for their humor and biting social commentary, Kinsella’s success reignited criticism of his appropriation of Indigenous voices for his own benefit, and of what some claimed was overt racism. For Kinsella, this censure was mitigated by the commercial success of the Silas Ermineskin stories. Achievement in his professional life was tempered by chaos in his personal life, including health problems, failed marriages and a tumultuous relationship with writer Evelyn Lau that resulted in a highly public libel lawsuit. 

Never one to shy away from controversy, he insisted that his decision to end his life by physician-assisted suicide must be mentioned in the press release following his death. Having been granted full access to Kinsella’s personal diaries, correspondence and unpublished notes—and with hours of personal interviews with Kinsella, his friends and his family—biographer William Steele offers insight into Kinsella’s personal life intertwined with the critical analysis and commentary the author’s fiction has inspired.

William Steele

William Steele is a professor of English at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee. He wrote his master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation on W.P. Kinsella’s baseball stories. Learn more about the book here.

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