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The Natural Paperback – July 7, 2003
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Stranger in the House" by Shari Lapena
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Roy Hobbs, the protagonist of The Natural, makes the mistake of pronouncing aloud his dream: to be the best there ever was. Such hubris, of course, invites divine intervention, but the brilliance of Bernard Malamud's novel is the second chance it offers its hero, elevating him--and his story--into the realm of myth. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
“A brilliant and unusually fine novel.” ―The New York Times
“A preposterously readable story about life.” ―Time
“Malamud [holds a] high and honored place among contemporary American writers.” ―Washington Post Book World
“The finest novel about baseball since Ring Lardner left the scene.” ―St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top customer reviews
On a side note, I'm not sure if Malamud was going for humor when he describes the massive amounts of food Hobbs consumes on some evenings in the book, particularly at the ill fated party toward the book's end, but I found his diet absurd.
For any teachers out there, I made a study guide to go along with the book since it's very difficult to find a lot of teaching materials to go with it. It's on Teachers Pay Teachers. Shameless plug, I know.
The only thing separating this book from five stars is the ending (much different than the movie and minus what I feel a full, satisfying closure).
Malamud's attention to secondary characters serve only to highlight Hobbs all the more effectively. It's a classic book about a classic time in baseball -- when the players still traveled by train and lights were just beginning to appear in stadiums.
To the uninitiated, Malamud springs some unexpected developments right from the beginning -- events one wouldn't really associate with baseball. That said, it is written in such a way that it is nearly a fable -- a potent combination.
Hobbs is a rather convoluted character -- he has the self-centeredness that great athletes seem to have, while at the core he struggles with doing what is right.
The dialogue is true to the sport and the era. And while it comes off a bit obscure at times, it is well worth the read.
That said, Mr. Malamud does fashion a great story about a self-absorbed, talented athlete (imagine that!) for whom Fate finds many ways to deny him the things that he wants most in life.