The Natural, Bernard Malamud's first novel, published in 1952, is also the first--and some would say still the best--novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material--the story of a superbly gifted "natural" at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era--and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work. Four decades later, Alfred Kazin's comment still holds true: "Malamud has done something which--now that he has done it!--looks as if we have been waiting for it all our lives. He has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology."
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux
July 01, 2003
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