Cheryl Klein's Reviews > The Art of Fielding

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
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's review
Mar 25, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: adult, adult-fiction
Read in March, 2012

When I think about this book, I think adjectives like "elegant," "plain," "solid," and "unfussy." All of those are true; none of them are quite right. Maybe the best thing I could compare it to is a C-major chord on the piano: notes struck together, sounding true and whole, ringing in the air cleanly, & leaving a sense of solidity & warmth behind as they fade away. It is the story of four people going through transformations in their lives as basic things they understood about themselves -- talent, sexuality, genius, and the guaranteed reward of goodness & effort, respectively -- are stripped away from them, how they handle those losses, and what they find to fill their place. It traces those transformations (and the betrayals and secrets that come with them) with exactitude but also generosity, and I found myself wanting to stay in the book partly because of the characters & how much I liked them, but more for the thoughtful honesty of that pristine narrative voice . . . almost in hopes that the narrative voice could extend that generosity to me, I think; that its warm clarity & sobermindedness might somehow reach into my own life, and make it come out as neatly in its complexity as the characters' lives do here.

It had the potential to be a little too male & Great American Novel-y in its obsession with baseball & Melville, but that didn't end up bothering me too much. Rather, as I said on Twitter it forced me to reconsider my opinion of guys named Chad, and I am grateful for that.

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