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)
Sharply Opinionated Know-it-all. Gallows Humor. Hollywood Insider.
One hesitates to write a review of a book - any book - when one has not written or published a book - any book - and probably never will. But alas, here I am.
The Art of Fielding has one hell of a great dust cover - and there is some easy transition here to the adage "Never judge a book by . . . " but I will spare all of you.
Truth be told, this novel starts out like gangbusters. Spectacularly rewarding. The prose vivid and lively. Characters are rich and intriguing - plot is compelling. The roster of characters the author lines up to bat seem to be drafted from the Island of Misfit Toys - truly inspired.
But by the bottom of the 7th inning, each character's most admirable qualities are their undoing and the spirit of the book seeps out. I had to push myself to finish, if only out of respect for the author. But it was sour going in the home stretch.
If we wanted to feel miserable, we'd be spending time with our family - not reading a book.
The Art of Fielding leaves us with no one left to root for, staggering from the stands wondering what we had just witnessed - a mercy rule or simply a rain out.
The baseball story is excellent but their is too much extraneous stuff that gets in the way.
Michael Connelly's Black Box
I can't recommend this to anyone looking for a baseball book. If you want a fairly decent romance story with better than average character development and a little baseball on the side, this might be for you.
I did not read the hype on this book until I couldn't bear listening to it anymore and wondered if my friends who seemed to be enamored of it were drawn by the baseball component, since I am not. It is LONG and PLODDING and comes across more and more as condescending to almost anyone who comes at it - baseball, social class, gender identity, adolescent angst, and acceptance of differences. A gay bunter!! A do gooder Jewish undergrad!! A wunderkind from the sticks!! A conflicted lonely college president?? An alienated daughter!! Come on. Each of these characters has been covered so much better and more richly in many other books so that lumping them feels both artificial and obvious. Don't waste the endless hours on this book, get Catcher in the Rye, The Natural, any Phillip Roth book, and do yourselves a service.
I love books!
My sis-in-law recommended this book to me and then after I purchased it informed me she hadn't even read it, just thought since I'm a sports fan I would like it. Well, it was an interesting story, the thought that kept coming to my mind was life mirrors baseball or is it that baseball mirros life? Set in NE Wisconsin at a fictituous college on Lake Michigan there were plenty of intersting characters in a setting with college baseball in the background, some of the charaters are players, others sort of around the program. I believe this was the author's first book and it was well written. It wasn't a thriller or page turner by any means but it was interesting enough to keep your interest, if anything it was intellectual. And, you don't really have to be a baseball fan to enjoy the book.
Too many tired plot devices.
Make the characters more believable.
Making the gay kid African-American was a bold move.
Graham's performance was good.
It's hard to imagine who might enjoy the poor narration. The story is good enough and has wide appeI al.
Characters were made silly by voices used.
If the story had been more interesting, and I had been able to care about the characters to a greater degree I could have given it more stars. The author seemed to be more interested in including literary allusions and being clever than following up on supposedly major characters and events and fleshing them out completely.
No, I still will try other books in this genre.
Mr. Graham's voice is a higher timbre than I enjoy listening to, which is not his fault. I didn't like his perpetually angry intonations for some characters and almost stuttering air-headed affectation for others.
Disappointment that it didn't live up to the critical hype. Confusion at some of the jumps in the timeline and inexplicable disappearance of a major character and total disregard for the resolution of that storyline. A little bit of anger that I had spent my money on it.
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.
This new recording is wonderful. I listened to a bit of the earlier edition, which just didn???t do this marvelous storytelling justice. Holter Graham has read some of my favorite audiobooks over the years, and The Art of Fielding has instantly become one of them. The characters Harbach has created seem real ??? I found myself holding my breath at tense moments, impatient to find out their fates. The plot was constantly surprising and very enjoyable. I highly recommend The Art of Fielding, one of my favorite titles of 2011.
Baseball happens to be one of my passions which led me to "The Art of Fielding" in the first place. And I often enjoy stories with gay characters in them, so I thoroughly enjoyed this book with the unique and flawed characters woven into the world of baseball.
And the focus isn't so much on the gay characters alone as it is on all the characters in their sometimes secretive and complex lives.
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