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The Natural by Bernard Malamud

The Natural (1952)

by Bernard Malamud

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This is the story of a baseball hero based on the Arthurian legend of the Fisher King. Roy Hobbs is determined to be the best baseball player ever and to break every record ever set. This ego, along with his lack of self-control, work against him throughout the novel.

I wasn't really impressed with the book while I was reading it. I think there were times when Malamud needed to explain something, but he couldn't find a good way to fit the explanation in, so he just stuck it in haphazardly where it didn't really fit. I also thought he was a bit too obtuse with his symbolism at times. Usually I like or at least don't mind this, but with this one I had to do a bit of research after I finished the book to really figure out what the point of the whole thing was. I appreciate Malamud's effort a lot more now that I've done some research, but I would have had a better experience reading the book if the research hadn't been necessary. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Malamud's first novel and an attempt to use the motif and story of the Fisher King in a fallen world.

That world, for him, is baseball, and for many years it was truly America's game. The Black Sox scandal was so painful to the country precisely because it broke the sweet image of the boys of summer, and revealed baseball as a business as open to corruption as any other. So it must have seemed the perfect environment to explore purity and failure.

Roy Hobbes is a magical rube when we first meet him, and awful things happen to him almost immediately as he travels from private kinds of dysfunction to the dysfunction of sports. 15 years later, he comes back to baseball as if to reluctantly fulfill a destiny, and for a while we think he might do it. His skill, his determination, the way he seems to inspire a cellar team and the public mix with huge appetites, and a terrible misjudgement of the people around him.

Malamud's writing takes unexpected mystical, surreal flights as he describes peoples' dreams, events on the field and off. His women are not so much stereotypic as iconic in the manner of legend, dangerous, deceitful, inspiring, a test of Roy's purity and faults. Will he, at the end, ask the right question and save the world? ( )
  ffortsa | Jun 6, 2015 |
A pretty good read! I've seen the movie adaptation many times, and was surprised how closely it followed the plot of this book. The main difference is the ending, which is pretty dang different! I liked that in the book, Roy Hobbs is not the perfect seeming, clean-cut guy that he was in the movie. He seems much more real in the book. Malamud uses some flowery language at times, but this is a good baseball story! I'm glad I finally read it! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Mar 7, 2015 |
The Natural is an oddly written metaphysical examination of baseball. It has some strange turns of phrase and even weirder similies and metaphores. It's trying to be a Flowers for Algernon sports novel and it just isn't. Roy isn't a likeable or honerable enough of a character for me to care whether or not he succeeds in his career. ( )
  pussreboots | Aug 4, 2014 |
I've read several Malamud novels but had never quite gotten around to this one. And it is really astounding. From the first scene with the amateur Roy Hobbs striking out one the leading sluggers in a fairground bet to the tragic ending. It is an all-too-frequent cliche about baseball novels, but The Natural really expands into the mythic, with large timeless figures, all of them tragically flawed. Plus the baseball scenes themselves hold your attention with all of the suspense and interest of a good sports novel or movie. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374502005, Paperback)

Roy Hobbs, the protagonist of The Natural, makes the mistake of pronouncing aloud his dream: to be the best there ever was. Such hubris, of course, invites divine intervention, but the brilliance of Bernard Malamud's novel is the second chance it offers its hero, elevating him--and his story--into the realm of myth.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:57 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel follows the career of baseball player Roy Hobbs, a natural with a bat whose dreams of playing in the big leagues are deferred by a youthful indiscretion, but who finally becomes a hero.

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