Monday, May 14, 2012

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Being a big baseball fan, I also enjoy a good baseball novel every now and then, such as The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. It tells the story of Henry Skrimshander, a college shortstop who loses his confidence right at the point that he ties a national record for the most games without an error, a record held by his idol, former St. Louis Cardinal Aparicio Rodriguez. The Art of Fielding is the title of Aparicio's collection of quotes about the philosophy of playing shortstop, a book that Henry reads constantly.

Henry's breakdown comes at terrible time for the surging Westish College Harpooners and four others on the campus by the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. Subplots involving the president of the college, his daughter, the Harpooners' catcher, and Henry's gay roommate divert readers from the shortstop's struggles for chapters at a time.

Baseball is only one of the elements of the unpredictable story. Literary readers will enjoy the discussions of architecture, philosophy, women's rights, campus promiscuity, drug use, and environmentalism. The writings of Emerson, Thoreau, and Melville are quoted alongside the words of Aparicio Rodriguez. Like many others who have reviewed The Art of Fielding, I was greatly entertained.

Harbach, Chad. The Art of Fielding. Little, Brown, and CO., 2011. 512p. ISBN 9780316126694.

Hachette Audio, 2011. 14 compact discs. ISBN 9781611132106.


Donna said...

I read this book a few months ago and really enjoyed it. Of course about a year ago I read Moby-Dick so I picked up on a lot of that imagery. I've been recommending it - especially to my husband's book group.

ricklibrarian said...

I hope they take up your suggestion. It would then be interesting to see who are their favorite characters.