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.
A part of the 50 Reader Store Essentials list.
Recalling works as disparate as Chaim Potok's The Chosen, John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, and Scott Lasser's Battle Creek, Harbach's big-hearted and defiantly old-fashioned debut demonstrates the rippling effects of a single baseball gone awry. When college shortstop phenom Henry Skrimshander accidentally beans teammate Owen Dunne with a misplaced throw, it starts a chain reaction on the campus of Westish College, "that little school in the crook of the baseball glove that is Wisconsin." Owen is solicitously visited in the hospital by school president Guert Affenlight, a widower, who falls in love with the seductive gay student, a "serious breech of professional conduct" that sends potentially devastating ripples through the school. Affenlight's daughter, Pella, after a failed marriage in San Francisco, returns to become part of a love triangle with Henry and Mike Schwartz, the team captain and Henry's unofficial mentor. And just when Henry's hopes of playing for the St. Louis Cardinals come within reach, he suffers a crisis of confidence, even as his team makes a rousing run at the championship. Through it all, Henry finds inspiration in the often philosophically tinged teachings found in The Art of Fielding ("Death is the sanction of all that the athlete does"), by a fictional retired shortstop. Harbach manages incisive characterizations of his five main players, even as his narrative, overlong and prone to affectation, tests the reader's patience.(Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/25/2011
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Pretty good
Posted May 13, 2013 by Rachel , San FranciscoIt wasn't the best book I've ever read but it kept me engaged and wanting to turn the pages. I like the baseball aspects of the book more than the "dangerous affair" but it made sense in the plot of the book. Overall, it was decent, definitely a "laying on a beach in some tropical country" type of book - something you'll enjoy and read quickly but not something to spend much time on.
2 . save yourself 13 dollars
Posted September 09, 2011 by elizabeth , dallasWas this written by Chad or Chaz? I bought this book thinking it would be like Playing for Pizza-a good stocking stuffer for my baseball loving sons-instead it is ultraliberal crap with some soft gay porn thrown in. What a waste of $13. Yuck.
Little, Brown and Company
September 06, 2011
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