Patricia's Reviews > The Art of Fielding

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
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Oct 19, 12

bookshelves: good-modern-fiction, read-in-2012, to-reread, read-aloud
Read in May, 2012

10/15/12
Matt and I read aloud.
I loved this book so much when I read it earlier this year that I blew through it in a matter of days. How could I enjoy it even more? By reading it aloud with my boyfriend. It was a very long read aloud, but nearly all 512 pages of the book are delightful and this time I was forced to move slowly through the book, savoring each chapter. My one complaint is that I always read the odd numbered chapters and in this book many of the odd numbered chapters are quite short in comparison to the even numbered ones. Although, I did get the payoff at the end of the book, getting to read all 20 pages of the chapter with the big game, so I was pretty happy in the end. I will repeat my hearty recommendation of this book. You need to read it, even if you don't like baseball.

5/5/12
Two people I know (one virtually, one in person) heartily endorsed this book and their hearty endorsements were spot-on. This is a fabulous novel, chock full of wonderful characters. It's about baseball, yes, but don't let that scare you off. It's about so much more: friendship and love and loyalty and pressure and that transition from college to adult life. I fell in love with the characters (Mike Schwartz will live in my heart forever) and when I finished the book, I immediately returned to the first page and read the first fifty pages again just so I could be introduced to the characters one more time.
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Quotes Patricia Liked

Chad Harbach
“Though his classmates supposedly hailed form "all fifty states, Guam, and twenty-two foreign lands," as President Affenlight said in his convocation address, they all seemed to Henry to come from the same close-knit high school, or at least to have attended some crucial orientation session he'd missed. They traveled in large packs, constantly texting the other packs, and when two packs converged there was always a tremendous amount of hugging and kissing on the cheek.”
Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

Chad Harbach
“Henry had never felt so happy. Freshperson year had been one thing, an adventure, an exhilaration, all in all a success, but it had also been exhausting, a constant struggle and adjustment and tumult. Now he was locked in. Every day that summer had the same framework, the alarm at the same time, meals and workouts and shifts and SuperBoost at the same times, over and over, and it was that sameness, that repetition, that gave life meaning. He savored the tiny variations, the incremental improvements--tuna fish on his salad instead of turkey; tow extra reps on the bench press. Every move he made had purpose.”
Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

Chad Harbach
“Opentoe College had some sort of evangelical mission that involved perpetual kindness and hopelessly outdated uniforms. The Harpooners hated them for it. It was unspeakably infuriating that the one school in the UMSCAC that spent less money on its baseball program than Westish always managed to kick their ass. The Opentoe players never talked even the mildest forms of smack. If you worked a walk, the first baseman would say, "Good eye." If you ripped a three-run triple, the third baseman would say, "Nice rip." They smiled when they were behind, and when they were ahead they looked pensive and slightly sad. Their team name was the Holy Poets.”
Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

Chad Harbach
“Baseball was an art, but to excel at it you had to become a machine. It didn't matter how beautifully you performed _sometimes_, what you did on your best day, how many spectacular plays you made. You weren't a painter or a writer--you didn't work in private and discard your mistakes, and it wasn't just your masterpieces that counted. What mattered, as for any machine, was repeatability. Moments of inspiration were nothing compared to elimination of error. The scouts cared little for Henry's superhuman grace; insofar as they cared they were suckered-in aesthetes and shitty scouts. Can you perform on demand, like a car, a furnace, a gun? Can you make that throw one hundred times out of a hundred? If it can't be a hundred, it had better be ninety-nine.”
Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

Chad Harbach
“Baseball, in its quiet way, was an extravagantly harrowing game. Football, basketball, hockey, lacrosse--these were melee sports. You could make yourself useful by hustling and scrapping more than the other guy. You could redeem yourself through sheer desire.

But baseball was different. Schwartz thought of it as Homeric--not a scrum but a series of isolated contests. Batter versus picture, field verses ball. You couldn't storm around, snorting and slapping people, the way Schwartz did while playing football. You stood and waited and tried to still your mind. When your moment came, you had to be ready, because if you fucked up, everyone would know whose fault it was. What other sport not only kept a stat as cruel as the error but posted it on the scoreboard for everyone to see?”
Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

Chad Harbach
“A gaggle of sophomore girls wavered by in their heels, en route from Bartleby's to some house party. No two of their tube tops or flouncy miniskirts were precisely alike, in cut or in color, and these slight variations made the outfits look all the more carefully orchestrated as they linked arms and passed by, pretending not to listen. Schwartz tried to comfort himself with a long look at their ten slender thighs turned pink by the cold, the good odds he'd been between four or six of those thighs on oblivious drunken nights, but it was useless, the girls looked absurd to him now, and it no longer seemed that the universe contained an endless supply of anonymous pink thighs to which he could escape from his troubles. Pella would never dress like that.”
Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

Chad Harbach
“Schartz would never live in a world so open. His would always be occluded by the fact that his understanding and his ambition outstripped his talent. He'd never be as good as he wanted to be, not at baseball, not at football, not at reading Greek or taking the LSAT. And beyond all that he'd never be as _good_ as he wanted to be. He'd never found anything inside himself that was really good and pure, that wasn't double-edged, that couldn't just as easily become its opposite. He had tried and failed to find that thing and he would continue to try and fail, or else he would leave off trying and keep on failing. He had no art to call his own. He knew how to motivate people, manipulate people, move them around, this was his only skill. He was like a minor Greek god you've barely heard of, who sees through the glamour of the armor and down into the petty complexity of each soldier's soul. And in the end is powerless to bring about anything resembling his vision. The loftier, arbitrary gods intervene.”
Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

Chad Harbach
“Sometimes a cloudless swatch of sky would blow past the moon, and Pella could see the outline of Mike's face in a slightly sharper relief. It was strange the way he loved her: a sidelong and almost casual love, as if loving her were simply a matter of course, too natural to mention. Like their first meeting on the steps of the gym, when he'd hardly so much as glanced at her. With David and every guy before David, what passed for love had always been eye to eye, nose to nose; she felt watched, observed, like the prize at the zoo, and she wound up pacing, preening, watching back, to fit the part. Whereas Mike was always beside her. She would stand at the kitchen window and look out at the quad, at the Melville statue and beyond that the beach and the rolling lake, and realize that Make, for however long, had been standing beside her, staring at the same thing.”
Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding


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