Canadian novelist WP Kinsella, who blended magical realism and baseball in the book that became the smash hit film Field of Dreams, has died, the AP reports. He was 81. His literary agent Carolyn Swayze said in a statement that Kinsella's death on Friday in Hope, British Columbia, was doctor-assisted. Details about his health were not disclosed. Assisted deaths became legal in Canada in June. In the 1982 novel Shoeless Joe, a farmer hears a voice telling him to build a baseball diamond in his corn fields. When he does, Shoeless Joe Jackson and other baseball players of yesteryear come to play. It became the blueprint for the 1989 Oscar-nominated movie, which starred Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, and Ray Liotta.
Kinsella, a bona fide baseball junkie, loved Field of Dreams and said he had tears in his eyes when he first saw it. Thanks to the movie, key turns of phrases in his book—"If you build it, they will come" and "Go the distance"—have taken their place in popular culture. "I wrote it 30 years ago, and the fact that people are still discovering it makes me proud," Kinsella said in 2011. Much of Kinsella's work touched on baseball. He published almost 30 books of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry and won the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest honors. "He was a dedicated story-teller, performer, curmudgeon, an irascible and difficult man," Swayze said. "His fiction has made people laugh, cry, and think for decades and will do so for decades to come."