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Customer Review

341 of 431 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real "hitter"., August 5, 2011
This review is from: The Art of Fielding: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
To say The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach is an intelligent novel is like saying gum is chewy. You have to actually chew gum to know the truth. If you bother to invest the time to read Harbach's wonderful novel you'll see the obvious truth to my opening sentence. That this author, a formerly out of work, copy editor with an MFA from the University of Virginia sold his baseball novel for $650,000 shouldn't be the only reason you read The Art of Fielding, but curiosity about this fact is as good a reason as any.

Set in the Midwest, the story starts with a late summer game between two unimportant amateur teams. Henry Skrimshander is a smallish player. Not able to hit well, his place on the team is cemented because of his fielding ability. I don't want to spoil anything here, so let's just say Henry impressed a player on the other team and let it go at that. A friendship formed that will end up impacting both their lives and the lives of other characters in the book. The Art of Fielding is a book about the lives of baseball players. You needn't be a baseball fan to enjoy the story but I'd venture a guess that the book may just draw you into becoming a fan.

Harbach has an easy touch in presenting his story. His prose is almost lyrical:

Page 177: A Saturday evening gloom hung in the air of the dining hall,
and it seemed that the revelry happening elsewhere on campus
had left a sad vacuum here. Dinner was no longer being
served, and the vomit-green chairs contained only a few
lonesome stragglers, gazing down at textbooks as they slowly
forked their food. A gigantic clock glowered down from the far
wall, its latticed iron hands lurching noisily to mark each
passing minute. Go somewhere else, the noise seemed to say,
anywhere but here.

Chad Harbach has a winner in The Art of Fielding. Let's hope there is more creative juice waiting to be squeezed.

I highly recommend The Art of Fielding. Terrific, Terrific, Terrific.

Peace to all.
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Comments

Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 6, 2011 3:50:50 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 6, 2011 3:52:13 AM PDT
Back at you, Robert! I didn't know that about the $650,000 deal--whew, what a windfall. I loved his exuberance and lyricism, and I would definitely be in line for his second book.

Nice review, and without any spoilers. That's a homer.

Happy Reading!

Bug

Posted on Oct 6, 2011 10:11:16 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 6, 2011 10:52:57 AM PDT
I haven't read this book, everyone seems to like it, but I've got a problem with connecting vomit to a dining hall b/c it's just disgusting. Is the dining hall supposed to be disgusting, or merely spookily empty and lonely? Please don't use it to describe the color of the seats. I want those people to get out of those seats and for God's sake stop eating! (Why do the stragglers have plates of food anyway, if dinner had stopped being served? Did it just stop, like 20 mins ago? Just asking.) Also, re. the physics of the clock on a wall, I don't think such a clock can glower "down" unless it's bent over, which I doubt. It can "glower out." Or better yet kick the preposition: "A gigantic clock glowered from the far wall." And never mind that the idea of a clock "glowering" is a pathetic fallacy. OK, arguably that's not fair. When Chekhov writes of a "hateful rain" falling no one thinks, ooo pathetic fallacy! We think, awesome mood-setting metaphor. When Stephanie Meyers sends her vampires racing through a "hateful rain" we think, justifiably, Pathetic Fallacy! (emphasis on pathetic). I'll give the clock on the wall the Chekhovian benefit of the doubt and let it glower on (or down or out or wherever). But then we've got stragglers "gazing down at textbooks as they slowly forked their food." Which is a cliche. "Goodbye cruel world, he thought, as he slowly raised the barrel to his temple." "'You'll get 'em next time, slugger,'" he said, gazing down at his young son as they slowly walked to the car." For $650,000, how 'bout a little effort? "... lonesome stragglers, gazing down at textbooks, their lazy forks [PF!] revolving in the vomit-green food." OK, no fair, there's 175,000 words in this, and I'm nitpicking. But let me commit the heresy of saying this little passage in this big vaunted book is overwritten and a little sloppy. I'm sure there must be better passages than this.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 7, 2011 7:15:39 AM PDT
Robert Busko says:
You need to send the author an email. Why send this to me?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2011 2:28:12 PM PST
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

Posted on Dec 15, 2011 3:54:48 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 17, 2011 5:14:53 AM PST
Robert Busko says:
And?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2012 11:40:46 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 10:10:30 AM PST
really?

Posted on Apr 28, 2012 2:32:31 PM PDT
Enjoyed your review! You MUST be a writer yourself. How else could a reviewer work that much punch into a few lobbed paragraphs? Love the way you threw in that quiet quote. Must get this book--thanks!
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