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)
Glad to have a story this good to listen to as I walked day after day.
This book reminded me of the early works of two of my favorite authors, before they became "serious writers" - John Irving and Richard Russo. Much like "Straight Man" and "Nobody's Fool" by Russo and Irving's "The World According to Garp," I enjoyed the character development of this book.
I liked these people - and I especially liked the fact that there was no single protagonist. I wanted them all to be successful in the end. It's not a world-changing book. It won't win the Pulitzer. But I thoroughly enjoyed the storytelling, and that was refreshing.
I had some problems with the ending. Implausibility mixed with abruptness kind of took me out of the bliss the book was generating. I won't mention specifics b/c it's not so bad that it ruins anything, so why spoil anything with specifics? And I'd hate to encourage this guy to extend his twelve years of effort to fifteen just to get an ending that I would love (yeah, I read the Vanity Fair story, who didn't?).
The story and narrator are a perfect pairing. I have listened to hundreds of audio books in all different genres and the pairing of Holter Graham with this wonderful story was brilliant. The book was selected by our book group. Several members read and others listened. Everyone enjoyed the book in both formats and are keen to recommend it.
The characters in this book -- Mike, Owen, Pella et al -- are now among my favorites in all of literature. Holter Graham's narration is tremendous. Don't let the fact that it centers on baseball give you pause. The Paris Review had a nice line about that, saying "The Art of Fielding is a book about baseball the way Moby Dick is a book about whaling; it is and it isn't. For the first time since joining Audible last year, when I finished this book I immediately started it again. If you want a higher endorsement than that, call a freaking publicist.
Yes I would.
Mr. Harbach writes well, gives depth to some of his characters, and plots out the story line nicely.
I think I likes his portrayal of Owen the best. He gave Owen exactly the voice and attitude I expected, but he also gave him more than I expected and it was all good.
Yes, I believe it was.
I enjoyed the book, but it was not without flaws. It started well, bogged down, then recovered hinting at a need for some additional, or at least better, editing. One character was a bit too wimpy and hard to believe. Still it presented an interesting look into how 5 people met and the impact each had on the others' lives.
Electrical Engineer, 51 years old father of 3.
A comming of age book with a twist. The characters were all well developed. Not a true sport book but used the sport of baseball to drive home its point.
This is a great book, even for those not particularly interested in baseball. The narrator is excellent.
Chad Harbach has received countless articles of praise for "The Art of Fielding", and deservedly so. But Holter Graham's performance in this audiobook deserves to be recognized as well.
The story and performance engaged me from the beginning and inspired a number of "driveway moments".
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