People love to talk about the great books that aren t good reads There s also the crap that people call beach reads but gobble up without taking seriously But The Art of Fielding falls under a t
People love to talk about the "great" books that aren't good reads. There's also the crap that people call "beach reads" but gobble up without taking seriously. But The Art of Fielding falls under a third category: A book I didn't like so much that I wanted to keep reading it.I wanted to like it, I did. I like books that take place in college. I like baseball. I like baseball metaphors even more. but it felt like a book that took 10 years to write and not in a good way. Characters that I imagine Harbach struggled with, felt like he struggled with them and instead of dealing with it, he just left them hanging. He built up Henry and then had him fall apart so very quickly to such extremes AND THEN (spoiler) for no clear reason he makes amends (though I guess the extent of the amends is debatable). I think what bothered me the most though, was that this felt like a Tom Wolfe novel (the most obvious is I Am Charlotte Simmons) but instead of creating complicated characters who have to deal with the consequences of their actions or characters who don't deserve the abundance of good luck that comes their way and know it, his characters are so one-dimensional that as much as I wanted to care about them, I couldn't. There's a benefit to realism, but if you don't create the "real," yet exciting (or at least compelling) characters to go with, why read it? I'm not sure why I wanted to keep reading it. Maybe it was in order to respond to people who sing its praises. Maybe it was to be justified in my dislike. Regardless, I propose a new genre of reading: anger reading (better name suggestions welcome). The best The Art of Fielding Author Chad Harbach is Book 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.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 fatesThe 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.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.. Chad Harbach grew up in Wisconsin and was educated at Harvard and the University of Virginia He is a cofounder and coeditor of n 1.Visit Facebook nplusoneFacebook TheArtofFielding. Popular Kindle The Art of Fielding Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding is 2/3rds strong but maybe 100 pages too long. You know that weird paradox you feel when you like a book but kind of wish it was over? I felt that around, oh, page 350 of The Art of Fielding. So while I can recommend the novel, with reservations, I can't make the four star leap.The storyline revolves around five characters and readers shouldn't be misled into thinking, as the inside cover description seems to imply, that Henry is the star and the four other characters lesser lights. The five meet, collaborate, have sex, become codependent (maybe...I'm not sure what “codependent” means) and evolve over the course of a couple years on the campus of a small northeastern Wisconsin college. Water (specifically Lake Michigan) and Moby Dick recur as themes that, I would bet, a grad student somewhere is analyzing in a paper right now. Harbach writes in a controlled, professional writer's workshop manner about 80% of the time. His writing is good, clean, and high-quality but, unfortunately, occasionally reads sterile. The "gay guys discovering each other" subplot was trite and predictable. Only in the last fifty pages does he passionately let loose. The novel's end is serene and satisfying. The first 460 pages are more like a clinic on how to write well. Nothing wrong with that. If you like austere, well-constructed novels, you'll like The Art of Fielding. Franzen gives a cover blurb, by the way. He's a good reference point for Harbach; “kind of like Franzen” would describe Harbach well.The prominent positioning of baseball in the title and storyline might lead non-sports-oriented (is that a word?) readers to question if this novel is for them. That's a fair inquiry. I bet you expect me to say, “No, you'll like the book even if you don't know much about baseball.” But I won't. Baseball knowledge/appreciation will increase your interest and/or understanding of The Art of Fielding. Too many scenes involve the committed, meditative approach Mike and Henry employ while on the diamond. If you don't know where a shortstop stands in the infield, stay away from this book. You won't get it.So I liked The Art of Fielding and expect the novel to garner many end of the year prizes and, possibly, a film deal leading to a serious, oscar-worthy movie. I just can't get passed the idea that, for a week or so before the final push toward the last page, I wasn't looking forward to reading this book much. Maybe the skyrocketing press and reviews raised my expectations too high. It's possible. Recommended with tempered enthusiasm.