First published in 1952, this novel has since become an American classic. Five decades later, Alfred Kazin's comment still holds true: "Malamud has done something which, now that he has done it!, looks as if we have been waiting for it all our lives. He has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology."
©1952 Bernard Malamud; (P)1993 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"A brilliant and unusually fine novel." (New York Times)
"This fine audio production retains the flavor of the world of professional sports circa 1940....Christopher Hurt's vaguely Midwestern voice is wonderfully matched to the characters....[It] has the perfect combination of flatness and emotion common to the finest sports announcers." (AudioFile)
I almost passed on this book because several reviews gave this book a very low rating. I'm glad I didn't. If you love movies more than baseball, and love happy endings, then you will want to pass on this book. However, if you are looking a good baseball story this book is for you. I connected with the characters in the book better because they were more human and less celluloid. The "good" guys were not angels, they had faults and the stakes were not all or nothing. In short, there was more realism in the characters and less Hollywood. If that appeals to you, then you too will enjoy this book. The book paces well (I was surprised that a 6 hour audio book could cover a 90 minute movie, but it did). Some questions from the movie are answered in the book and others are raised. The reader kept my attention and did a good job, but nothing too noteworthy.
Easy-paced, heart-dropping, All-American
The early scene with Miss Bird that kicked off the conflict in the novel, while heavily foreshadowed, provided quite a memorable moment.
The final scene with Wonderboy, Roy's beloved bat, was a great one.
The book kept jogging along, and I enjoyed the many peaks and valleys.
I'd put this book after A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Art of Fielding, but certainly in the pantheon of great baseball books.
The screenplay for the movie beat the book hands down. The book had no direction, and no point. If you want the story of "The Natural" told with an inkling of entertainment value WATCH THE MOVIE!!!
i am *THE* phranque
Though some have touted this as a good 'baseball' story, it comes up very short of that. Putting that aside, there are conflicts that come up in the book that are never explained (Why did Harriet want to kill sports stars?) and, in the end, it is not a happy ending. I could handle that but it just seems that this is a disjointed soap-opera with a baseball setting. I recommend watching the movie. It does stray from the book somewhere in the middle but at least you don't walk away with more questions than answers. Not to mention feeling better about the characters.
An avid reader, who also loves to listen.
So this might not be as good as the movie, which is one of my favorite sports' movies of all time. BUT even still, the book is a classic and dives more into the sports' realm than the movie actually does. In addition, unlike the movie, the book is also a little less boring in that it doesn't go too much into the love stories as in the movie. In this audio production, the narrator does a great job and overall, I'd highly recommend this book for any sports' lover!
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