The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach demonstrates how post-modernism can produce a very enjoyable novel. The story alternates between 5 different characters: Henry Skrimshander, an almost mythically talented college shortstop, Mike Schwartz, the catcher who discovers Henry and mentors his development as a player and person, Owen Dunne, Henry's gay roommate whose Zen clam earns him the nickname, Buddha, Guert Affenlight, the 60 year old president of Westish College who falls in love with Owen, and Pella Affenlight, Guert's daughter who returns home to Westish after disastrous elopement and 4 year marriage.
Each character’s story intertwines and moves to a crisis centered around Henry's troubles with an errant throw that causes him to lose confidence in himself and playing ability. The characters are wonderfully drawn making you wish the best for all of them all the while knowing that a happy ending for all is impossible. In some ways these characters remind me of Jay Gatsby the eponymous hero of F. Scott Fitzgerald book. They all want more for themselves than nature, society and/or their talents will allow them to have.
Recommended reading for those who love baseball, stories about college days and colleges, and really good post-modernist fiction.
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