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The Art of Fielding: A Novel by Chad Harbach

The Art of Fielding: A Novel (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Chad Harbach

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,7181942,171 (3.96)197
Title:The Art of Fielding: A Novel
Authors:Chad Harbach
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2011), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 528 pages
Collections:Classics & Literature, Your library

Work details

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (2011)

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» See also 197 mentions

English (186)  Dutch (4)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (192)
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
This book was a very slow read for me! There were parts of the book that I enjoyed but mostly I just wanted it to end. This novel was not only about baseball but also a coming of age novel 5hat took place in a small college town in Wisconsin. ( )
  teeth | Apr 24, 2016 |
A very satisfying novel (the author's debut). It's reminiscent of John Irving in its focus on character and place: you get to know the main players inside and out and they can be infuriating and pleasing. While baseball provides the context for most of the work, this is not a sports book and even someone who detests the National Pastime will find much to enjoy. The novel is set on a small Midwestern liberal arts college campus, and, in a sense, the work almost resembles a play given its emphasis on dialogue. It does not duck large issues and is one of the few mainstream books I can think of in which homosexuality and heterosexuality coexist peacefully. There's also a feeling of jump cuts; often, the author will advance the narrative obliquely and the technique works beautifully. Truly, as one of the blurb puts it: you don't want the book to end because you have become so familiar with the core characters--and their triumphs and disasters. ( )
  neddludd | Mar 28, 2016 |
This is the most well-written book that I just did not enjoy reading. I constantly found myself admiring Chad Harbach's writing and word choices - but I found the story disconsolate and I dreaded knowing more about several of the characters. ( )
  Darwa | Mar 18, 2016 |
I listened to this audiobook in 3 spurts over the last 9 months. The checkout from the library kept expiring and I wouldn't feel like renewing it. But then I'd still be thinking about it and check it out again. In the end, I ended up thinking this was a really good book.

The story revolves around the baseball team at a small upper midwestern college called Westish College. Henry Skrimshander is recruited by the baseball team leader, Mike Schwarz, to play shortstop for the team. Mike sees potential in Henry and he is right. Henry ends up being a once in a lifetime find and seems destined to be a Major League shortstop of the highest caliber. Towards the end of the season, things start to go wrong. Is it the pressure? Fear of success? Fear of failure?

Baseball is the backdrop for the relationships in this book. There is the obvious team dynamic. There is also the college roommate dynamic. Also, these characters are trying to figure out what they'll do next as they near the end of their college careers. Another element is the President of Westish College, Guert Affenlight. His 20-something daughter, Pella, has recently come back from a failed marriage and they try to rebuild their father/daughter relationship. Affenlight is also experiencing a sort of second youth, having a relationship with one of the students. There is a lot going on, but Harbach manages to keep it all tied together. In addition to the baseball backdrop, there is a constant thread of Melville, who supposedly lectured at Westish College. Affenlight is a Melville scholar and there are some subtle (very subtle) references to themes in Moby Dick throughout the book.

The book relies on some sort of unlikely plot turns which made me not love it, but I think it's going to end up being a really memorable book for me, surprisingly enough. Part of this may be that I loved the audio book reader, Holter Graham. I think he really increased my enjoyment of the book. This was Chad Harbach's first book and I will be interested to read what he writes next. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Mar 2, 2016 |
I really loved the first 50 pages, but lost a bit of interest as the focus left Henry. (I was not a big fan of the Pella character.) I think I wanted more about baseball, and less about the lives of the other characters. That being said, the last 2 pages are super amazing! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 186 (next | show all)
The book is a throwback to a bygone, if not universally mourned era when charismatic white male novelists wrote intelligent bestsellers, and one senses that it is intentionally so....It is a work of stridently unexperimental psychological realism, featuring likeable characters with cute nicknames, dramatic events that change people’s lives, easily identified and fully consummated narrative arcs, transparently conversational prose and big, obvious metaphors.

Wie aan dit boek begint, wordt een wereld binnengezogen waaruit je niet meer kunt en wilt ontsnappen.
Naast honkbalroman, bildungsroman en campusroman zou je De kunst van het veldspel ook een Melvilleroman kunnen noemen. Zonder dat het hinderlijk wordt (zelfs als je ze allemaal zou opmerken, wat geen lezer zich verbeelde), stikt het boek van de verwijzingen naar met name Moby Dick.
Dit klinkt als gewichtigdoenerij, maar maakt gewoon deel uit van de spitsvondige speelsheid die dit hele boek kenmerkt. De kunst van het veldspel is een jongensboek voor jongens en meisjes van alle leeftijden.
added by sneuper | editde Volkskrant, Hans Bouman (Jan 28, 2012)
Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding cross-breeds two genres with limited gene pools, the baseball novel and the campus novel, and comes up with a vigorous hybrid, entertaining and engrossing, though almost absurdly high-minded.
added by zhejw | editThe Guardian, Adam Mars-Jones (Jan 28, 2012)
It's easy to see why The Art of Fielding has done so well: it is charming, warm-hearted, addictive, and very hard to dislike....

The Art of Fielding feels like a novel from another, more innocent age. It revels in themes that have been unfashionable in literary fiction for generations – team spirit, male friendship, making the best of one's talents. In its optimism and lack of cynicism, in its celebration of the wide open spaces of the Midwest and its confidence in the deep inner meaning of baseball, it is a big American novel of the old school....

...it creates a richly peopled world that you can fully inhabit in your mind, and to which you long to return when you put it down.
added by zhejw | editThe Guardian, Theo Tait (Jan 12, 2012)
Centering on an imaginary northern Wisconsin private school and its baseball star-in-the-making Henry Skrimshander, Harbach sidesteps much of the familiar mythmaking that can go along with spinning the American pastime into literature and instead delivers a rich, warmly human story that resonates even if you have no idea what a 6-4-3 double play looks like.
added by zhejw | editLos Angeles Times, Chris Barton (Oct 16, 2011)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chad Harbachprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vermeulen, JorisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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So be cheery, my lads
Let your hearts never fall
While the bold Harpooner
Is striking the ball.

--Westish College fight song
For my family
First words
Schwartz didn't notice the kid during the game.
Literature could turn you into an asshole; he'd learned that teaching grad-school seminars.  It could teach you to treat real people the way you did characters, as instruments of your own intellectual pleasure, cadavers on which to practice your critical faculties.
Talking was like throwing a baseball.  You couldn't plan it out beforehand.  You just had to let go and see what happened.  You had to throw out words without knowing whether anyone would catch them--you and to throw out words you knew no one would catch. You had to send your words out where they weren't yours anymore.  It felt better to talk with a ball in your hand, it felt better to let the ball do the talking.  But the world, the nonbaseball world, the world of love and sex and jobs and friends, was made of words.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Au Wetish College , petite université sur les rives du lac Michigan , Henry Skrimshander est devenu une véritable star du baseball: il conclut tous ses matches par un sans-faute . Jusqu'au jour où il rate un lancer facile . Son destin ainsi que celui de quatre personnes vont alors prendre un tour décisif.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316126691, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, September 2011: Though The Art of Fielding is his fiction debut, Chad Harbach writes with the self-assurance of a seasoned novelist. He exercises a masterful precision over the language and pacing of his narrative, and in some 500 pages, there's rarely a word that feels out of place. The title is a reference to baseball, but Harbach's concern with sports is more than just a cheap metaphor. The Art of Fielding explores relationships--between friends, family, and lovers--and the unpredictable forces that complicate them. There's an unintended affair, a post-graduate plan derailed by rejection letters, a marriage dissolved by honesty, and at the center of the book, the single baseball error that sets all of these events into motion. The Art of Fielding is somehow both confident and intimate, simple yet deeply moving. Harbach has penned one of the year's finest works of fiction.--Kevin Nguyen

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:35 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

"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."--from publisher's description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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