The Art of Fielding: A Novel

The Art of Fielding: A Novel

3.9 259
by Chad Harbach

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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

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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.

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Little, Brown and Company
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Hachette Digital, Inc.
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1 MB

What People are saying about this

David James Duncan
"That baseball rewards languid virtuosos and frothing monomaniacs about equally is one of the game's weird fascinations. That Academe does the same would not be useful information in the hands of a hack. But The Art of Fielding marries the national pastime to the life of the mind, takes off running, and never flags. Chad Harbach's pen shatters stereotypes like fastballs shatter bats. His sentence-making keeps things fluid and tense as a September pennant race. When the best shortstop alive sounds believably like a Tibetan lama, and when a thrown ball striking a shovel head at dusk leaves your own head ringing with certainty that truth and friendship have triumphed, you know you're in the hands of a writer you can trust." --(David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K and The River Why )
Nicholas Dawidoff
"Here is that rarest of pleasures, a baseball novel by someone who really knows baseball. The beautiful part is that The Art of Fielding is mere baseball fiction the way Moby Dick is just a fish story. I read this vividly written, powerfully imagined story of a group of young ballplayers and the small-college world they inhabit in a single weekend—read it when I was supposed to be going to the park, making lunch, seeing a movie. Chad Harbach is that kind of writer, so affecting, subtle, funny and true that he gets in the way of your plans and makes everything better." --(Nicholas Dawidoff author of The Catcher Was A Spy and editor of Baseball: A Literary Anthology )
Jonathan Evison
"Spectacular! The Art of Fielding is a wise, warm-hearted, self-assured, and fiercely readable debut, which heralds the coming of a young American writer to watch. Harbach's characters live and breathe, yearn, ache, and in the end, make you love them for their flaws. You won't want this book to end." --(Jonathan Evison, author of All About Lulu and West of Here )
Jonathan Franzen
"Reading The Art of Fielding is like watching a hugely gifted young shortstop: you keep waiting for the errors, but there are no errors. First novels this complete and consuming come along very, very seldom." --(Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom )

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The Art of Fielding 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 258 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really thought I would love this book. I kept waiting to love this book, but it never happened. I found the story being told from so many points of view hard to follow. Maybe it was because I couldn't make myself care about the characters enough to keep track of who was talking. I thought the co dependent relationship between Henry and Schwartz got old. I also found the relationship between Owen and the university president totally unbelievable. Gay or straight, a relationship between a 20 something athlete and a 60 something university president ......please. One last thing,I thought it was rediculous how many times in the book someone mentioned how pretty Pella's name was. Seriously, every time I read her name I thought of windows. I really expected a New York Times Best Seller to be more engaging.
Lawrence_in_Ohio More than 1 year ago
I read this amazing debut novel in a little more than 48 hours. I find it difficult to believe that this is Chad Harbach's first published book. You do not need to know anything about baseball to read and enjoy "The Art of Fielding." I do know a little more than nothing about baseball, and the pace was maintained throughout. I liked all the characters, and loved a few. Henry is a cousin of Holden Caulfield, in my opinion. Yes, I would suggest this to reading groups, and as soon as it is in paperback (a rule of the reading group I am in,) I am going to recommend that we read this wonderful book. I happen to live in a small college town in Ohio, and almost all of the college aspects rang true. I am awaiting more writing from Chad Harbach.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At times, I could not put this down. At other times, I skimmed because, there seemed to be a lot of detail that slowed the process. However, all in all, this was a good read.
Timothy Kruse More than 1 year ago
There something grand about a GOOD BASEBALL BOOK. Is it the simplicity of it? the way it moves . . . batter by batter, inning by inning, game by game? I don't know. The same can be said for a good work of fiction (it's ALWAYS a "work of fiction" isn't it) . . . page by page, character by character, chapter by chapter. Combine those two things with a book about college life . . . where young people have freedom to dream with few responsibilities, and you have . . . ta da . . .The Art of Fielding. Curl up and enjoy. peace, trkruse
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Thanks to the author for spending ten years on it! Very well written, great characters, and great story and plot. Overall, I enjoyed becoming engrossed in the novel.
Pintsized More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be elegantly written and the story pleasantly simple. The author didn't rely on gimmicky twists or plot twists to keep the reader interested. Baseball is timeless, yet you don't have to be a baseball fan to read this book. Enjoyable, easy to read, yet engaging enough to keep you interested in the characters' outcomes. Highly recommended.
BookHussy More than 1 year ago
This book is so many things, and my biggest regret is that I waited so long to read it. I wasn't convinced that I'd love it like the reviews said I would. I like baseball okay but wasn't sure I'd like to read a novel about baseball. Well, I was dead wrong. I adored this book and couldn't read it fast enough. This just goes to prove that if you have a good tight story, you can sit it down in any scenario and it will still be good. Baseball is the backdrop of this book, but friendship is the theme...friendship, sacrifice and forgiveness. It is one of those rare books where you hate to see it end because you love and care about the characters so much. Great writing, great book.
LauraC1981 More than 1 year ago
I don't quite get ALL the hype about this book, but it was one of the best 10 or 15 books I read in the last year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book started out great, but turned into a predictable drama and then wrapped up tidily the same. Good characters, but story line unremarkable.
MattMarak More than 1 year ago
You definitely do not need love baseball to love this book. I loved the characters, all relatable, and I couldn't wait to see how their lives unfolded. I got through a lot of it on a flight and was actually disappointed when we landed. It's truly an engrossing novel. I'm looking forward to what's next from Harbach.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Brenda Ballard for Readers Favorite Henry loved baseball. In fact, he lived for baseball. He was a natural shortstop; the ball and his glove were like magnet to steel. Life as he knew it would cease to exist as he is discovered and recruited to a liberal arts university. Thriving in the academic arena and catching the eye of scouts with his error free play, he is headed towards being signed and making more money than his family has probably ever seen. But all this will change in an instant. An errant throw from shortstop catches in the wind, hitting his roommate in the face. This one throw will be the pivotal point of not just Henry but those around him. Five lives, directly affected, thrown down a thorny path. Henry is destroyed on many levels, this one incident haunting him every day ... The audio book discs are probably the nicest I have ever seen, printed as baseballs to follow the story line. This is one of those stories that has so many unexpected twists and turns that it is not possible to guess what the author has in store next. It should be noted that while this book is, in my opinion, an excellent read, it may not be for everyone. There are many colorful scenes with both hetero and homosexual activities. Nonetheless, the audience who choose to embark on the experience will not be disappointed. It is funny and emotional, thought provoking and very well-written. Applause goes to the actor whose voice is captivating and pleasurable to listen to!
Stephanie Turner More than 1 year ago
I am an avid baseball fan, so I was hooked from the begining. I was able to put the book down and come back to it , not exactly a pageturner, but enjoyable.
jmchshannon More than 1 year ago
College is an interesting time in one’s life. It is the quintessential crossroad for an individual – a concrete dividing line that few of life’s crossroads ever have. At the beginning, one’s life dreams are still unlimited and entirely possible. As a student creeps closer to his graduation date, those options and dreams become limited, sometimes severely, so that by the time of graduation the leap from the possible to the practicality of adulthood is a truly terrifying experience. Henry, Owen, and Mike are all at this essential crossroad and must make that leap into the unknown, abandoning long-cherished plans or miraculously enacting their wildest dreams. Yet college is not the only major crossroad in life’s journey; life is full of those proverbial forks in the road. Pella and Quert both face their own personal crossroad, not knowing which path will lead them in the direction they truly need, let alone desire. Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding blends the lives of each of these characters and their own travails with their individual crossroads, deftly detailing the emotional toil such decisions require and establishing strong connections between characters and reader. Each of the main characters in The Art of Fielding is lost in some fashion, and it is not until they stop fighting the paths down which fate wants to take them where they finally find what they need. During their individual journeys, one is swept up in their mini tragedies, the dramas that surrounds them, their highs, and their unspeakable lows. Mr. Harbach masterfully recreates the same feelings within a reader, dredging up all the pain and anguish associated with growing up that a reader once felt at his or her own childhood crossroad. Remarkably, he also manages to keep the drama realistic and utterly engaging. The plot moves swiftly, but there is a depth of exposition that enables a reader to empathize with and understand each of the characters. The story never feels overly lengthy and in need of severe edits; rather each scene develops with an attention to detail that enhances rather than bores. It is the type of sweeping drama that so rarely graces the bookstores these days with its thorough descriptions, large cast of characters, and ability to capture and hold a reader’s attention throughout each one of its 500+ pages. While The Art of Fielding is more than a novel about baseball, the sport does play an intricate role in the plot, and knowing something about the sport and even liking the game will prove beneficial in some of the more detailed baseball scenes. Interestingly, while much of the locker room antics – the careful pre- and post-game rituals, the superstitions, the banter, the speeches – happen in almost every sport, there are very few team sports in which one player’s mistake is obvious to player, team, and observers alike and can cost a team the entire game. Baseball is as much a team sport as it is a completely individual sport, and Henry’s struggles are uniquely associated with the game of baseball. The understanding of baseball’s dichotomy will enhance a reader’s understanding of and appreciation for Henry’s and Mike’s problems. Baseball as a metaphor for life – it might not be the first comparison that would occur to a person, but, if one understands the finesse, the physics, the physicality, and the mental aspects of the game, it rings surprisingly true. The Art of Fielding crosses the boundary of being a baseball novel to being a novel about life that happens to occur to baseball players by subtly highlighting the similarities and the aptness of the metaphor. A reader internalizes each of the characters’ pain and suffering because one can always draw upon similar, equally difficult, and emotional experiences. Between the brutish but generous-to-a-fault Mike, delicate Henry, suave Owen, troubled Pella, and grave Quert, a reader has a myriad of experiences upon which to reflect and relate, and a reader will do just that. Mr. Harbach, with his skillful turns of phrase, makes it too easy for a reader to empathize with each of the characters, and the result is a poignant, beautifully simple novel about the pain of growing older and wiser to which everyone can relate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of those books that you read because you think that the ending will justify the effort, it doesn't. There was really no point to the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. Found many of the characters intriguing, and liked the writing style. I feel this would make an excellent book club choice or summer read. Many different angles/relationships to explore.
Megrtxo1 More than 1 year ago
I'm so glad I read this book! It was so much more than a story about baseball. I highly recommend this to anyone!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a huge baseball fan, but this book is not about baseball. It is all about character development; complex and very interesting characters that you grow to love. Top 5 book for me!
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nookbookreader22 More than 1 year ago
I think this was a terrible book. I am a woman and actually like baseball and baseball books. It started out so good and then the next several chapters was about the history of the president of the college. It was so boring and complete turn off. I couldn't wait to get back to the baseball players' lives. The whole black/white gay character was fine, but him being involved with a 60 year old president of the college was just so out of place. The daughter of the president could have had so much more in this book. I don't think the auther expanded on her role as much as he should have. The book could have been really good if he would have just told the story of two good friends: one helping the other be a great player. But the whole gay affair thing was stupid. I do not recommend this book. I wanted to quit it so many times, but it was so thick that I thought it might get better. The ending was stupid also.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My mother actually recommended this book to me, but when she said it was about baseball I was reluctant to read it for I am neither interested nor well versed in the ways of baseball or sports for that matter. However, this novel blew me away. Harbach uses this silky language that so excellently carries the novel at a leisurely yet enticing pace that had me hooked throughout. The characters were so well described and real that I felt as though we were close friends. This debut novel is superb and I was happily surprised at the outstanding depth and originality if this book. I finished this book feeling content and changed as Harbach wrote more than just baseball but of life.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book! It was beautifully crafted and such an easy read. It introduces the reader to the complexities of life in such a unique way. Look forward to seeing more from Harbach.