Miriam's Reviews > The Art of Fielding

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
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Feb 07, 12

Read from September 17 to 23, 2011

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).
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Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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Julia Your review says perfectly the way I felt about this book. Love baseball, college environments, but these annoyingly named characters were cardboard.

Judykulakofsky Agree, Julia. I didn't see their motivation either. We never really get to know Henry. There's got to be more to Mike. He starts out interesting, but then what happens to him? Pella's character isn't credible. Owen really is allowed (and wants) to read in the dugout? Even after his injury? And really, if that May/December relationship was more than a little icky. I wanted to like the book based recommendations and reviews. But I thought the writing was kitschy and the characters were flat.

Neal Sanders Miriam, I'm with you, Julia and Judy. I kept reading but for no valid reason. I very much like your proposed category name of 'anger reading'.

Julie Excellent review. You captured my reading experience perfectly.

Cade Yes. exactly. I actually cursed at the book a few times, but read on with ever diminishing hopes that it would get better.

Scott Ableman Yes! This is EXACTLY how I felt reading this book, and pretty much how I just described it to my wife.

Bryan I agree! I kept reading because the writing style is pretty good, the book just did't go anywhere.

message 8: by MD (new) - rated it 1 star

MD Yes. But I stopped reading it.

Andy Haha I had the I Am Charlotte Simmons feeling as well. Couldn't finish the book. He's trying too hard to be Franzen

message 10: by Lisa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lisa Totally agree. And Guert's (SPOILER ALERT) heart attack bugged me for two reasons: one, you could see it coming a mile away, with all the foreshadowing. And two, it was such a cop-out. I would have liked to see how he dealt with his fall from grace over the long haul.

Maddy Exactly how I felt about this book. Just parts of it made me set off, but it had to finish it.

Katja De Agree, agree! Annoyance reading might also be a good term. I was irritated throughout.

message 13: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex Sostar You hit the nail on the head here. I've been drawn to reread this book since finishing it, but every time I start, I end up skipping through to most of the Mike Schwartz parts - he seemed the to have the most understandable, and human reasonings for his actions - they might not be directly relatable, but you feel like he's a real person, unlike Henry being constantly directed by outside forces.

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