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The Natural

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  8,251 Ratings  ·  608 Reviews
This is a book about heroism - of sorts. Roy Hobbs has an immense natural gift for playing baseball. He could become one of the great ones of the game, a player unmatched in his time - a hero. But his first hard-won big chance ends violently, at the hands of a crazy girl, and then it is years before he gets another shot. At last, in a few short seasons, or never, he must a ...more
Paperback, 216 pages
Published June 6th 2002 by Vintage Classics (first published 1952)
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Brina
As baseball season heats up, I find myself gravitating toward baseball related books in order to enhance my love for the game when I am not listening to or watching a game. Today I read Bernard Malamud's The Natural, which I rate 3.6 stars.
I have seen the movie version of this book in which Robert Redford's character hits a game winning homer to clinch the pennant, shattering lights, creating his own fireworks, with memorable music in the background. The written version, unfortunately, is not a
...more
Fabian
Jun 14, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Important book on baseball, rife with fun cliches (essential to our Nation nonetheless...?). A cool view from the top of that profession, with social drama going by at a largely brisk pace.
Lyn
Jul 28, 2012 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A reader who begins The Natural by Bernard Malamud after having enjoyed the wonderful 1984 film starring Robert Redford and Glenn Close will be disappointed.

Like many books and films based upon the book, the two media are vastly different. This relationship reminds me of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? 3 and Bladerunner, two similar stories but essentially different and made so by the necessary distinctions of the enabling forum. Both are fine works, just very different.

First of all, Mala
...more
Jason Koivu
May 13, 2012 Jason Koivu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sports
A true slice of that American pie...or rather a slice of the true American pie (with a dusting of nuts on top)...(I mean "crazy" nuts)...(jesus, this metaphor is falling apart like a...like a bad analogy!).

For the better part of the last hundred years, baseball has meant America. The Natural is about baseball, thus The Natural is about America. The American dream of working hard and making something of yourself is encapsulated herein. The protagonist, Roy Hobbs is a young baseball prospect with
...more
Mandy
Sep 21, 2007 Mandy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
One of the most over-rated novels in all of American Literature. Malamud cannot write. Or he writes like a 13-year-old boy would write. It baffles me -- baffles me! -- why this book is considered a classic and why on earth we would teach it to high school students. It must be because it's about baseball. Big farkin' deal. Do yourself a favor -- skip the book and watch the movie. Redford is excellent in the film and gives the story more depth than the author ever could.
David
Dec 24, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, audiobook
I haven't seen the movie, but other reviewers mention that the movie is sparkling and upbeat, while the novel is rather dark. And that is true; this is not an altogether "happy" story. It seems like Roy Hobbs will be a fantastic pitcher, able to strike out batters without their even seeing the ball. But that is quickly cut short ... no, I am not going to spoil the story here. Roy Hobbs' career as a baseball player is shut down before it really gets started. And he does not return to the game for ...more
bup
May 21, 2009 bup rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2009, baseball
I can't believe how little Malamud apparently knew baseball. I tried to understand this book three different ways - first, as a remarkable story set in the real world. NFW. Second, as a surreal fairy-tale/morality play, a la Coelho's The Alchemist. No, Malamud simply seems to believe what he wrote too much. I mean, there are obviously surreal elements, but Malamud didn't make the full commitment. It's just not that. Third, as a kid's book. Almost, until you get to the end. He really thought he h ...more
Carol Storm
Gloomy and full of sadness, yet lacking any real lessons or even a real heart.

What's striking about THE NATURAL is that critics love the IDEA of the book -- a Jewish-American writer certifies his "American" identity by writing the Great American Baseball Novel. Yet almost nobody who reads this book ever remembers any of the ball games -- or any of the characters -- or any American scenes or situations or dialogue. It's full of shadowy sureallism and all seems to be set in some twilight world dev
...more
Karen
Feb 05, 2016 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my all-time favorite books. I have gotten to teach it twice now, and each time I read it, I'm more and more impressed with Malamud's spot-on perspective on American heroes, the dreams we create for ourselves and how they change and diminish as we age, and the inevitable failure that we all have lurking inside of us. Despite the fact that Roy Hobbs is an utterly frustrating character -- does he ever make the right choice? -- it's hard to be too down on him because it's easy to see ...more
Helen
Jun 18, 2016 Helen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hm. Apparently, I do not have a shelf for this book. What sort of shelf would that be? Baseball fiction? Books That Use Baseball as an Interminable Metaphor? Books that Express Disillusionment with the American Dream? Because it definitely belongs on those shelves. But I think the shelf this book fits best on is "I Liked the Movie Better."

Because the movie was awesome.
Leslie
Mar 10, 2014 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting tale by a great writer. It's a first novel, much simpler than some of Malamud's other work, the dialogue a little awkward, but perhaps intentionally so. Do not read further if you don't like spoilers. It is hard to say anything about this novel without giving away pivotal events.
****************************
We first meet Roy Hobbs as a young prospect who is being taken by a down-on-his-luck scout to a tryout for a big league team. Fate intervenes, the scout dies, and Roy is very se
...more
Will
Aug 13, 2009 Will rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book had its good points and its bad points, but in the end I felt underwhelmed. The movie left me feeling the same way, but at least that had Randy Newman's great score.

The good:

Malamud's writing can be humorous, at times even makes-you-chuckle-on-BART humorous. The introductory sequence with greenhorn Roy Hobbs on the train with the world-famous Whammer and pretty, mysterious Harriet Bird is unforgettable: evocative, inspiring and sad (those first 50 pages would have made a great short s
...more
Tony
Apr 13, 2014 Tony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE NATURAL. (1952). Bernard Malamud. *****.
When I read this first novel by Malamud back in the late 1950s, I was blown away. On this second read, I was still mightily impressed. If you have not read any of Malamud’s works, this should be first on your list. It was immediately classified as a ‘baseball’ novel, and, indeed, it is set in the baseball world. The hero. a natural ball player, is cut short in his career by a woman he totally mis-read, and had to defer his entry into the sport for seve
...more
Steven Peterson
Oct 21, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Those who have seen the movie but have not read the book will be surprised. Bernard Malamud paints a much darker picture of the odyssey of Roy Hobbs. The book takes the arc of one person's career--Roy Hobbs--and weds it to a couple grim episodes in baseball's history: Eddie Waitkus and the Black Sox.

The Hobbs of the novel is wonderfully talented--but very human. In the movie, there is a prolonged slump after Hobbs links up with Paris Memo. In the novel, he sometimes simply has a slump. In the n
...more
Daisy
Jun 22, 2012 Daisy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never seen this movie.
This book is vivid and summery. Full of baseball and its superstitions and lingo (I love the word "stuff" and what it means in baseball and I think nowadays it means even more). Malamud doesn't use contractions in his dialogue here so there's a '50s formality to the mood. Seems like all the men's names are one syllable and all the women's names are two. I like the name Memo for a character. Never heard that one before. Roy's appetite and all the food he consumes: some
...more
Rebecca
I would give this 3 1/2 stars. In full disclosure, I have loved the movie most of my life and I knew the book was going to be darker. And it is. And the characters are less likable. It is really interesting to see how they masterfully adapted essentially the same story and dialogue from the book into a movie with a completely different tone and a lot more heart. So, I'm glad I read it to appreciate the comparison, but in this rare case I did prefer the movie.
Bob
Summary: The story of Roy Hobbs, whose promising career in baseball is nearly ended by a strange woman with a silver bullet and his attempt at 35 for one more season of greatness.

The story of Roy Hobbs is that of the tragic hero come to baseball. A number of you may remember the 1984 movie starring Robert Redford. I haven't seen the movie but I sense the book is darker. The story begins with a young Roy Hobbs on a cross-country rail journey that recurs in dreams throughout the book as a symbol o
...more
Franky
Say it ain't so.

I was aware of this novel for quite some time, as I saw the film years ago, but I never realized how far removed the book is from the 1984 film with Robert Redford. In my opinion, this is one of those rare cases where the film is volumes better than the book. I know that the author intended his book to have ties to mythology and the Arthurian legend, but, even at that, the way tries to incorporate the telling of Roy Hobbs’ story into some sort of allegory is clunky and uneven at
...more
Andrew P.
Jan 20, 2014 Andrew P. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Natural by Bernard Malamud is not the typical sports hero novel. The protagonist, Roy Hobbs, a talented baseball player being scouted by the Chicago Cubs, hits rock bottom after being shot in the stomach, possibly ending his baseball career. Fifteen years later, Roy returns to the game and joins the fictional New York Knights. He slowly works his way to becoming the baseball player he used to be, but never quite gets there. Roy has conflicts with many people, including love interests and tea ...more
El
Aug 28, 2010 El rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I mostly read this because I somehow had it in my mind that I was remiss in not having seen the movie starring Robert Redford, and since I like to read the book a movie is based on first, well. It had to be done. And it is done. Except now I don't want to watch the movie.

Roy Hobbs is, as the title suggests, a natural in baseball. He goes around talking pretty big about how bad-ass he is and how badder-asser he will be once he makes the big time... and then he goes and gets all involved with some
...more
Robert
Jan 31, 2012 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great novel and perhaps the greatest baseball novel of all time, The Natural is not without its flaws. First and foremost is Roy Hobbs, our protagonist, and his lack of likable traits. Roy is stubborn, shallow, and selfish. Everyone and everything in his life seems to only serve the purpose of appeasing his voracious appetite. For what does he hunger? For greatness, on the surface. To be the best at what he does. To fulfill his potential. To have it all.

I struggled at times to get behind the
...more
Grace
Nov 04, 2015 Grace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
What an interesting book! It took so many unexpected twists. It was about so much more than baseball - as many baseball books are - but it was also less about baseball than I had expected, less about baseball than you think.

Also, what is it about baseball and magic? This book is "realistic" except for the bat, Wonderboy. Baseball books seem to me, more and more, to have a special affinity for magic realism, highlighting this idea that some of the things that happen in the game are so unlikely t
...more
MentorPublicLibrary
If you think this is the sweet story you saw in the movie with Robert Redford, complete with the overdramatic happy ending, you are in for a shock. In this dark tale, Roy Hobbs' baseball career is cut short by a crazed fan. Years later he has a second chance and easily shoots to the top of the majors with his skills. Along the way, Hobbs falls for the manager's niece, Memo, who is still in love with Hobbs' now deceased team rival, Bump Bailey; has a romantic fling with the past-her-prime fan Iri ...more
NancyHelen
Mar 24, 2015 NancyHelen rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, america, sport
This was a bit of a tough read because I really don't know that much about baseball and I don't really understand the rules of the game beyond my rudimentary knowledge of schoolgirl softball. But the book had good pace and a good story. I didn't warm to Roy that much - despite his age, Iris had pegged him perfectly when she had asked 'when are you going to grow up'? His obsession with Memo, from the outside, was more than just damaging to him - it all but destroyed him. And sadly, for much of th ...more
Jacques Bromberg
Oct 28, 2006 Jacques Bromberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: prose-fiction
Malamud's prose is elegant and evocative, and made this novel a pleasure to read. So different from the film! Roy Hobbs is larger than life, and not just in the way he swings the bat; his story is a charming, if occasionally repugnant, fable that doesn't turn a blind eye to human nature. The characters are well-drawn and familiar types, and the plot rushes you along like the ghostly train of Roy's nightmares. It was hard to put down. Thanks, Elizabeth!!
Jim Townsend
May 22, 2016 Jim Townsend rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bernard Malamud's first novel, published in 1952, is one of the best baseball books I've ever read, despite Roy Hobbs' being an antihero. None of the characters are likeable, from the owner to many of the fans, but the story of a hardscrabble, gifted ballplayer is hard for a seamhead (baseball fanatic) to put down.
Andy
Apr 10, 2017 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Natural has always been one of my favorite baseball movies, and I decided to finally read the book, with the season opening and all. I've read some reviews of people saying that the book is much darker than the movie, and... it's true. Although that is not really a bad thing. Roy is gruffer, grittier, and a little bigger than what Redford puts on the screen. He's also a bit nastier in terms of personality... not nearly as affable as Redford's Roy. Again, not a bad thing. The highs in the boo ...more
David
Apr 08, 2017 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This seemed a little different than the other Malamud I've read. Maybe because it was so early for him. Pretty decent stuff though. I like some of the more ragged edges, though I don't know if those were intentional or not. It's a bit bitter, and I know it needed to be, but there is still some human hope in it. I can at least see why so many people know this one.
Joel
Oct 27, 2013 Joel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nathan
May 02, 2012 Nathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Bernard Malamud was an author of novels and short stories. Along with Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, he was one of the great American Jewish authors of the 20th century. His baseball novel, The Natural, was adapted into a 1984 film starring Robert Redford. His 1966 novel The Fixer, about antisemitism in Tsarist Russia, won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
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“We have two lives... the life we learn with and the life we live after that. Suffering is what brings us towards happiness.” 69 likes
“We have two lives; the life we learn with and the life we live after that.” 9 likes
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