At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for Big League stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended. Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future.
College President Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry's gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners' team captain and Henry's best friend, realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert's daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.
As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process, they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths.
Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment - to oneself and to others.
©2011 Chad Harbach (P)2011 Hachette
"Reading The Art of Fielding is like watching a hugely gifted young shortstop: you keep waiting for the errors, but there are no errors. First novels this complete and consuming come along very, very seldom." (Jonathan Franzen)
"Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding is one of those rare novels--like Michael Chabon's Mysteries of Pittsburgh or John Irving's The World According to Garp--that seems to appear out of nowhere and then dazzles and bewitches and inspires until you nearly lose your breath from the enjoyment and satisfaction, as well as the unexpected news-blast that the novel is very much alive and well." (James Patterson)
"Chad Harbach has hit a game-ender with The Art of Fielding. It's pure fun, easy to read, as if the other Fielding had a hand in it - as if Tom Jones were about baseball and college life." (John Irving)
This audible experience ranks quite high, far exceeding the expectations of a reader/listener more prone to classical selections of the Dickens era. But like DIckens or any author I admire, Harbach has created characters I care about in situations that test them and change them. His idea of using baseball as a metaphor for life lessons sounds like a preachy idea but, trust me, he pulls it off with such artistry there is only admiration for his skill. And the desire to go see a game right away.
I don't believe in giving away a story as part of a review but I will say there were several amazing moments when I had to rewind to savor the writing and the narrator's abilty to put me right amongst those interesting and complex young people. Oh and the college president was beautifully drawn, too.
I loved Graham's rendition of Henry, the shy, innocent youth from a small town whose love of baseball directed his life. Graham never failed to bring that quality of wonder and loneliness to Henry's voice.
I would love to have dinner or be anywhere with Schwartz, the team captain, the catcher, the hero of this story. He's a thinker and a doer, a rare combination.
In re-reading my review, I fear I make it sound like a sports story but The Art of Fielding is so much more than that. When an author and narrator can create characters that I care for and worry over, when his writing is elegant to the point of poetry, when the story is universal and specific at the same time, he/they have transcended a mere tale of a small liberal arts college and it's baseball team. This is a story to be heard and enjoyed even if you have never seen a baseball game in your life.
Based on the high acclaim this book received, I thought it would be a fantastic story. However, I was disappointed. It had a generic, boring story, that didn't hold my interest.
Although this was a greatly written book and I did enjoy listening to it, I couldn't decide if the Author wanted us to go away with a better understanding of baseball or the Gay experience. I am not a homophobe, but I could have done without some of the more graphic gay scenes. At times it seems that he couldn't wait to get away from the baseball episodes so that he could immerse us back into the gay experience. Loved the ending though and did give it 4 stars.
Tell us about yourself!
Completely fooled into thinking that I was going to get to read a classic baseball story which ended up competing with a gay romance between a sexually confused dean and a student. It didn't contribute to the story.
He's very good
Excellent writing style.
I almost turned this book off because I found the narrator's voice so irritating. It's very sing-songy, with words emphasized in weird places. I almost thought I was listening to an infomercial. I think he was chosen because he has an all American boy voice, which compliments the story. Two of the main characters are young American men that play baseball. I ended up persisting and I came to not mind the performance after awhile. The narrator did do a nice job of differentiating between the characters.
The story follows several characters at a college in the Midwest. There is a lot about baseball. I don't really care that much about baseball, but I found the descriptions enticing and I was interested in the fates of the players and the team as a whole. There are also several plots about the relationships between the characters in the book, which I also found very interesting. It wasn't terribly deep, but there were many places where the writing was insightful and moving. Overall, I'd say, "entertaining."
The reader was very good, and I think he did a great job telling the story. The writing, however, tended to go on and on at times, and the author says things that seem to be profound, but yet aren't. I kept listening, because I really liked the characters, but many times I would look to see how much time was left, and was amazed that I still had 3 or 4 more hours to go.
This is a vivid and imaginative novel, filled with irresistible, finally honed, and very human characters. I happen to love baseball, which made it that much better for me, but it's not a requirement. It took a while to get use to the cheerfulness of the narrator, but eventually the he seemed well-cast. My favorite book so far this year.
This was an enjoyable story. I was pleasantly surprised with the back story in the book. I'm a big baseball fan and chose it because of the baseball theme that the title suggests. Lots of twists. It's a modern story that was well described. I like to listen to a book a second time because there are times when my mind wanders. Not because of the narrator but because I listen to books all the time when I'm driving in the car.
I have already recommended this to everyone I know. I have even stopped to talk to strangers about it.
It was touching and authentic.
All of them.
I listened to this on a lengthy car trip I was taking alone and it sure made the trip go by faster. I had been reading it while on vacation ... frankly it was better to listen to than to read!
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.