Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach: A Review

The Art of FieldingThe Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here is further evidence (as if I needed it) that I need to relinquish my stubborn reluctance to pick up certain books.

The Art of Fielding, despite being about baseball (i.e. the slowest, most boring sport in the universe) and college boys (also some of the slowest and most boring things in the universe), was exactly the kind of novel that I love.

Henry Skrimshander begins his promising career as a shortstop at Westish College under the tutelage of classmate Mike Schwartz, but one ill-fated throw shatters his zen-like composure on the field and threatens his entire future. The novel follows Henry and Mike as well as the small college's president, Guert Affenlight and his prodigal son of a daughter, Pelly.

The story is sprawling in scope and crawling with quirky characters in the way that John Irving and Michael Chabon's novels are. (It did, at times, echo A Prayer for Owen Meany just a little too closely – though Irving himself endorsed the novel with a dust jacket blurb, so apparently he was okay with the similarities, so why shouldn't I be?)

It wasn't perfect, and the end wasn't the home run (ha ha) that I hoped for, but it was fun and I will definitely read Harbach's sophomore effort.

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