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The Art of Fielding: A Novel | [Chad Harbach]

The Art of Fielding: A Novel

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1202 )
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  •  
    S. 03-03-12
    S. 03-03-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not Quite ~"

    I wanted to like this book - and the writer has wonderful prose - but I just didn't fall in the love any character nor did the story line captivate me. I did like the narrator, but I wouldn't recommend this one. There are too many great books to read via audio, and this isn't one of them.

    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Cary, NC, United States 12-28-11
    Sam Cary, NC, United States 12-28-11
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    "Disappointing."

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Calvaresi HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO, United States 10-13-11
    John Calvaresi HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO, United States 10-13-11

    JCC

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    "Entertainingly Simple"

    Although somewhat simple with some of the writing amateurish and predictable, I found the overall story entertaining and fun. I looked forward to each listening session and was usually quite entertained. The reader was excellent, and his character depiction very good.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arnold Tampa, FL, United States 10-05-11
    Arnold Tampa, FL, United States 10-05-11
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    "Don't buy into the hype"

    You have to be kidding me. After reading the reviews on this book I couldn't wait to check it out . What a disappointment. The writing style is juvenile, the characters are paper thin and there is nothing remotely believable or insightful. With so many quality writers out there, how did this one get so much press? I rarely give up on a book more than half way in but this one forced me to.

    29 of 33 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 07-16-12
    Stevon Tempe, AZ, United States 07-16-12 Member Since 2005

    I love books!

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    "a good listen"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendi Overland Park, KS, United States 06-20-12
    Wendi Overland Park, KS, United States 06-20-12 Member Since 2011

    Canadian girl in Kansas, love audible, books on kindle or kindle fire, and old fashioned books! I enjoy fiction most, mostly books with strong female leads. Favourite authors: Diana Gabaldon, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Wally Lamb, Pat Conroy, Andre Dubus III, Lisa Genova, many more!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The Art of Fielding- A Work of Art"
    Where does The Art of Fielding rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I would have to say that 'The Art of Fielding' is probably one of the best audiobooks I've listened to. The narrator is fantastic at the 1.5 or 2 speed on Kindle Fire. The story itself sucked me in and I couldn't wait to listen to more. I hated for it to end. It's a beautiful story and I truly believe this will become a classic.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Art of Fielding?

    Memorable moments are abundant in 'The Art of Fielding.' I would say that the most memorable is the first part. Henry's character sucks in the listener, as he is an underdog. As a too-small but amazing short stop, he has no aspirations to play further than high school but he's noticed by Schwartz, who gets him a deal at a small Wisconsin college. Thus the story begins of Henry, his roommate Owen, and Schwartz. All of the main characters, especially Henry, burned a picture in my mind that I will never forget.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I loved the scene where Owen gets hit by the ball and Henry is absolutely sure he was dead, because I was convinced of that too. The book has some funny parts, but it's definitely a testament to honesty, friendship, and the belief in a person's own abilities, whatever they may be.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    I was hesitant to read/listen to this book because it looked like it was 'just for guys.' I thought it would be boring and all about baseball. But, it ended up being one of the best stories I've ever read. If I had to make a 'tag line,' it would have to be something about how this book is for everyone who appreciates great fiction. If I had to make a tag for a movie, it would definitely be something about how you should never judge a book, or a short-stop by his cover.


    Any additional comments?

    The Art of Fielding is an amazing story. Don't hesitate to read or listen to it because it seems like it might be boring. The narrator is perfect in every way, the story is deep and comprehensive, and the characters will pull at your heartstrings and making a lasting impression. Chad Harbach has my attention, and I won't hesitate to buy anything else he writes!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca 04-15-12
    Rebecca 04-15-12 Member Since 2009

    Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!

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    "Love of baseball, literature and great characters"

    Wonderful book about life and love of baseball, literature (Moby Dick again), and family/friends, tradition and our commitments to each other.

    Part coming of age, and also an examination of what is failure. Great characters and atmosphere.

    My love of baseball, literature and great characters made this book a lot of fun for me.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Austin, TX, United States 01-31-12
    John Austin, TX, United States 01-31-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Pretentious Bore"

    In spite of the rave reviews this book, though very well written (and very well read), takes a cliched plot-line and drives it relentlessly into the ground. Underdog college team with diamond-in-the-rough shortstop prevails against all odds without much adult supervision. The characters are all one-dimensional, the only female in the novel is a mere plot convenience, rolled in and out of the story with mechanical indifference to her presumptive role. Ethically, the novel is a mess. A college president forms a homosexual relationship with a student, and except for some administrative wrist-slapping towards the end, the novel steadily keeps a blind eye on the grotesque power-relationship it is describing. (Put priest in place of president and see if you think well of the book.) Even worse, the novel tries to place itself on the same shelf as Moby Dick! I gather that the author is an admirer of Franzen's Freedom, another novel much praised in spite of its sloshing superficialities.

    I should mention that I remain a devoted baseball fan in spite of my reaction here.

    19 of 23 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelley Chatsworth CA 05-19-12
    Shelley Chatsworth CA 05-19-12 Member Since 2009
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    "Baseball and gay romance! What's not to like?"

    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.






    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    greg sarasota, FL, United States 01-29-12
    greg sarasota, FL, United States 01-29-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Comparable to Franzen"

    Interesting mix of baseball, philosophy and character studies. Much like my favorite contemporary writer Jonathan Franzen, Harbach has woven an engaging study of several diverse personalities into a life affirming experience. If you have enjoyed any of Franzen's novels you will not be disappointed. Holter Graham's narration was on perfect pitch for this wonderful addition to my library.

    Highly recommended!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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