Nate's Reviews > The Art of Fielding

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
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's review
Mar 03, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: read-2012-cycle, reviews, library
Read from March 25 to 31, 2012

I hate this book for being as good as everyone told me it was. I probably heard a dozen different people and websites mention this book and every one of them had nothing but positive things to say about it. Does that mean this was a flawless book? No. But it's a book that has the ability to make you keep turning the pages without concentrating on how much longer the story is. Here's how good it was. You know what the first thing I did after I had finished reading it was? I went back and read the first chapter again, and flipped through just re reading and re reading. That honestly doesn't happen for me.

I'm a sucker for a good baseball book. I grew up my entire life with baseball and reading about baseball and I doubt that love will ever go away.

There were some things that bothered me about it. I felt it was a little inundated at times with literary or philosophical references. I prefer as much realism as I can get and though I understand it takes place at a liberal arts college and one of the characters is ostensibly the smartest kid at that school I don't see people's concentration on literature and aphorisms quite as concentrated as it is. But hey, it is a book
Second, I felt that Owen being as good a baseball player as he was was a bit of a stretch. I get it, D-III school, there are walk-ons. But I don't know that I expected him to become the three hole hitter which is typically a lineup's best hitter, particularly when he just reads the whole game.
Third, I really didn't expect the team to win the championship. I mean it's not like Ahab ever gets Moby Dick. So why should Schwartz and Henry get theirs? I mean I get it, they both had bigger dreams (law school and draft) that didn't necessarily go as planned. But that doesn't mean the consolation prize should be a national championship. Particularly for a team that was .500 the year before. I just felt like Harbach was trying to make it a happy ending and I think he stretched the reality a bit. Again, I get it, it's a story.

Okay, but I actually did like a lot of this book. One of the reasons I did is that the problems listed above didn't actually bother me that much. I was able to submit to the author's authority and just read the story. I've dealt with and been around people that develop the throwing block. It's basically this panicked, paranoid over calculating mindset that has no off-switch and knowing that that was what was coming over Henry made me cringe because I could see it coming and I couldn't stop it.

The other thing was how it was all very human. Every character really was vulnerable, yet convinced they needed to mask it, they needed to play brave. And the way things set up to crack is managed perfectly. As a reader it really made me feel helpless. It's that odd paradox in storytelling where you don't want bad things to happen to your favorite characters but you don't want them to go untested either.

It was and it wasn't a baseball novel. A slice of it was a baseball novel. But it was really about a group of people trying to hold things together while falling apart. And I guess that's why I liked it so much.
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03/25/2012 page 49
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message 1: by Gary (last edited Apr 15, 2012 05:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gary I really liked the literary and philosophy references.....and yes it's like that in a liberal arts college. It was like that in my literary classes,and writing classes I took. I loved having that surround me. I also wrote a review in reference to that. I am in a bookclub and we have some great discussions revolving some of those exact issues in books. I am in high hopes of convincing my bookclub to read this book and discuss it.

Check out my review.... I "liked" yours.

Nate Thanks for the feedback. I'll be sure to check your review out. Good luck with convincing your bookclub. This has my approval.

Steve Good stuff, Nate. I assume you know, too, about how Harbach chose Little Brown for less money just to have the chance to work with Michael Pietsch (DFW's editor).

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