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The Art of Fielding: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Chad Harbach
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,042 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $8.04
You Save: $6.95 (46%)
Sold by: Hachette Book Group

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Book Description

At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry's gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners' team captain and Henry's best friend, realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert's daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.

As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2011: Though The Art of Fielding is his fiction debut, Chad Harbach writes with the self-assurance of a seasoned novelist. He exercises a masterful precision over the language and pacing of his narrative, and in some 500 pages, there's rarely a word that feels out of place. The title is a reference to baseball, but Harbach's concern with sports is more than just a cheap metaphor. The Art of Fielding explores relationships--between friends, family, and lovers--and the unpredictable forces that complicate them. There's an unintended affair, a post-graduate plan derailed by rejection letters, a marriage dissolved by honesty, and at the center of the book, the single baseball error that sets all of these events into motion. The Art of Fielding is somehow both confident and intimate, simple yet deeply moving. Harbach has penned one of the year's finest works of fiction. --Kevin Nguyen

Review

'It's left a little hole in my life the way a really good book will' Jonathan Franzen 'This is an outstanding novel about sport and, in Henry Skrimshander, Harbach has created a character who will keep sports psychologists in conversation for years' Mike Atherton, The Times 'Charming, warm-hearted, addictive' Guardian 'Once started The Art of Fielding is a book you want to read and read. It is deliciously old-fashioned: it simply gets on with the business of creating vivid, layered characters and telling a good, engrossing story' Daily Telegraph 'An intricate, poised, tingling debut ... leaves you longing, lingering, and a baseball convert long after the last page' Tea Obreht, author of The Tiger's Wife, winner of the Orange Prize 'Chad Harbach has hit a game-ender with The Art of Fielding. It's pure fun, easy to read, as if the other Fielding had a hand in it - as if Tom Jones were about baseball and college life.' John Irving Steeped in American tradition, this moving debut hits a home run...What in less skilled hands might have been a light comic novel evolves into a debut of great warmth and weight... This is a charming, moving and slyly profound novel. You might even say Chad Harbach hit this one out of the park' Sunday Telegraph 'Every bit as good as billed. A big, beautiful blowout of a book, sure and generous, it reads like a throwback to the mid-20th century, when American literature was in its pomp... an exceptional debut' Guardian 'A terrifically engaging novel... you will be rewarded by a page-turning, beguiling and wonderfully warm-hearted read'. Sunday Times 'The baseball sequences are terrific... Harbach captures precisely the strangely becalmed grace that sets sportsmen like Henry apart...Very good indeed' Independent

Product Details

  • File Size: 890 KB
  • Print Length: 516 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0007374453
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (September 7, 2011)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004QZ9PE2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,983 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
471 of 538 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Strong writer seeks his editorial equal August 28, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I really liked the first 300 pages of Chad Harbach's debut novel, The Art of Fielding. As I was reading that 3/5 of the book, I probably would have told you that I loved it. But a funny thing happened between that point and turning the final page. The novel drifted, and tried to do things it hadn't before, and ultimately even diluted its own strengths a bit.

Harbach's players are all deserving of praise. They're authentic, human, unique yet relatable - his biggest misstep in their creation is probably their names (another instance where a strong editor maybe could have said, you know, this is distracting). The plot & themes are fairly standard liberal arts college/transitioning to adulthood stuff. The authorial voice is entertaining enough and the various avenues the characters use to avoid or delay their maturation are grounds for meaningful insight, enough that the somewhat cliche' elements are just the field on which Harbach's particular game is played.

The third act drag can mostly be attributed to one thing: in ordering this book, I was anxious about it being a "baseball book". I love baseball and have enjoyed a few fictional journeys into the sport, but generally the game is adequately dramatic and attempts to tell "important" stories in its world fall easily into melodrama. For most of The Art of Fielding, Harbach deftly avoids those traps and temptations. And then, for long stretches of the second half of the novel, it becomes the prose equivalent of underdog sports movies like "Hoosiers". Unfortunately, this is not only distracting, but it's time that could have been spent on resolving and exploring the impact of the interpersonal conflicts that were so well developed in the beginning and middle of the book.
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159 of 182 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was good -- BUT.... November 1, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First thing I'll admit: I purchased this not so much because I was hankering to read a baseball-themed bromance about self-discovery in the dregs of a protein shake, but more because the dollar figure of writer Chad Harbach's advance was leaked to the press and legions of curious had to know if the writing warranted that giant $650,000 figure. As if any of us know what "warranted" looks like in this case, as if we had anything to compare that against. I just knew that was a lot of money, and if a first time novelist could command that dollar figure (in this era of declining advances and tightened publishing company purse strings) , I needed to find out what he was doing right.

I finished it in 3 sittings. Worth mentioning, because I slog through most books in a single evening so there's no petty internal struggle over "WHY" I'm picking the book back up and whether I'm GENUINELY compelled to turn the next page or whether I'm simply reading out of some rote sense of duty to complete the project I've begun.

With this book, that internal struggle was strong each time I hefted the book up onto my lap. Mr Wonderful would ask me, "Is it any good?" and I would say, "I'll wait until I'm done to answer that. I don't know yet." Which was my opinion up until the final pages. "I don't know yet." I was trying to separate my envy over the publicity and the giant advance check from my enjoyment of The Novel in its own right and finding that separation very difficult.

And, as many reviews I read prior to dead lifting the novel warned, this was not a plot-driven baseball story, this was a character-driven baseball story. And it's not a baseball story at all, not really, because there's not really all that much baseball actually played out on the pages.
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742 of 928 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Astonishingly Awful October 13, 2011
By DEdward
Format:Hardcover
I have never felt compelled to write an online review before. But as someone who reads four or five novels a month (mostly popular fiction) and works in the publishing industry, I find the praise for this book so inexplicable and disturbing that I feel the need to speak out. Cardboard, cliched characters (the coach? Henry's father? the chef? other nominees?) engaged in laughable dialogue (as you read the book, ask yourself whether you know any college students -- any -- who talk this way) in a plot held together by cheap TV-esque cleverness (a gay baseball player who after striking out says the pitcher is cute . . . a scene in which readers are led to believe the main character is overhearing two people engaged in sex behind a door -- but only because the writer holds off telling us for a few paragraphs that the character is at the gym outside the weight room). People and themes disappear without a trace (the architect husband? Gone. Aparicio Rodriguez? Disappeared. The zen-like manual, The Art of Fielding, that is the supposed central conceit of the book? Abandoned somewhere mid-novel). For all the complaints here about the ending -- and it is truly silly and pretentious -- let's not lose sight of the wreck that precedes it.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I feel duped October 30, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am by no means a skilled reviewer. In fact, this is the first review I have felt compelled to write on Amazon. So bear with me... I raced to order this book after I read the Vanity Fair article. As I was reading the book, I kept trying to figure out what it was that Everyone found so amazing. And, like the emperor's clothes, I convinced myself early on in the reading that it was really good. That I actually liked the characters and cared what happened to them. Anyway, after about page 350, I kept hoping I could read faster to get it to just end. Other reviewers on here are skillful at extracting why they don't like the book using clever literary analysis. I was just bored. To be positive, the author is an incredible "writer." His use of language is adroit, I admired his tropes, etc. But that does not a good story make. I wanted to be enraptured in the "story." I wanted not to be able to put it down. Instead, I found myself (yesterday, in the snow storm, in front of a fire) not wanting to put it down because I just wanted to finish it so I could move on to something else. There were times when I thought I should just give up and not finish it, but I kept waiting for that feeling that Everyone else had. I felt vindicated when I woke up this morning, rushed to Amazon, and read some of the minimally-starred reviews. We've been had, people.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I didn't finish it
I didn't finish it. I though the book was long-winded and superficial. I'm not sure what all the hype was about. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Jake P
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent read. Well drawn characters. Good drama. Super writing. Sorry to finish it.
Published 8 days ago by bob s
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A good " coming of age " read. Enjoyed it.
Published 10 days ago by John A Wilk
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is really not about baseball. . . if you don't like sports...
I don't know much about baseball and I have never really been that interested in the game. There was even this one time where I went to Tiger's Stadium because I was invited to go... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Debra G. Hendren
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Perfect condition
Published 21 days ago by Kendra
1.0 out of 5 stars I thought it was boring, but I know people who loved it because ...
I thought it was boring, but I know people who loved it because of the baseball theme. Only one likeable character. You decide which.
Published 26 days ago by Mandalyn
4.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical Novel about College Baseball Players
Chad Harbach’s first novel is a mashup of some really classic American themes and topics: baseball, college, the midwest, and friendship. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Louis Foster
5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed
One of the best books I've ever read. A true philosophy of life. I wanted to BE that guy.
Published 29 days ago by oshkoshwriter
4.0 out of 5 stars good story telling
Some interesting character development. good story telling.
Published 29 days ago by Phoebe J. Becktell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book!
Published 1 month ago by NG
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More About the Author

Chad Harbach grew up in Wisconsin and was educated at Harvard and the University of Virginia. He is a cofounder and coeditor of n+1.

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