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The Natural by Bernard Malamud

The Natural (1952)

by Bernard Malamud (Author)

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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 |
Much darker view in the novel than the (more) famous movie. ( )
  kcshankd | Nov 29, 2013 |
I was pretty blown away by this and I want to read it again already. It's dark, mysterious, and is more about life and human nature than baseball.

The first thing you need to do is forget about the movie. It can't help but color your perception as you're reading, and the movie is completely different from the book in tone. There are few likable characters in this book and no angels. That can sometimes really put me off a book, but these are not Snidely Whiplash moustache twirlers either. They are just real, flawed characters.

Although I've always been a fan of the movie, I feel a little let down and think I probably like it less now that I've read the book. This is a much deeper, complex story than the movie.

One thing I've noticed with the reviews is that some people just don't like books that aren't "feel good" stories. It seems to me that people can read and watch stories of murder and horrific acts all day, but give them something that actually shows the pain of everyday life and they get irritated and/or angry. This is not a "feel good" story. ( )
  bongo_x | Apr 6, 2013 |
Roy Hobbs faces the demons of baseball (and loses)
  FKarr | Apr 6, 2013 |
Courtesy of The Literary Snob
There are few reasons why I'd pick up a book about baseball. As I compile a mental list, I find that nearly every possibility is due to either necessity or wit. Yet I did pick one up and even read it in its entirety for one very good reason: Bernard Malamud.
I read The Assistant a couple years ago and since I have been a great fan of Malamud. He infuses the subtlest hints of poetry and magic into his otherwise simple stories; the result—a fast, effortless read which peels away to reveal an elegant tale rich with gorgeous imagery.
I had some uncertainty about whether The Natural would be easily admitted into Malamud's canon having two possible strikes against it from the onset: its subject of baseball, and it was the author's debut novel. While these factors may have been a slight hindrance in this book's full potential, The Natural is still a home run—the best in its league.
Within pages, Malamud comes out swinging with a back story that is mysterious and engaging. Quickly, my worries of a tedious read melted away—this was Bernard Malamud.
The Natural follows Roy Hobbs, a man whose dreams of being baseball's greatest name is detoured and, with the passage of many years, find his chances slipping away. Naturally, as one would expect from any American story about baseball, Hobbs is given his opportunity. What one may not expect from Malamud's treatment of the subject is the brutal literary depth applied. Make no mistake, The Natural is literature.
Despite its beauty and tightness, The Natural does sometimes miss the mark. At times Roy Hobbs reminded me of Jay Gatsby, and I wondered if Fitzgerald's novel was not in mind as Malamud penned his first work. Some may welcome such a comparison, but as I find The Great Gatsby to be the most overrated work of literature I have personally read, I did not.
The average baseball fan would probably hate this book, especially in its conclusion. While at times it may feel like Field of Dreams, ultimately it is not. For a literary snob like myself, however, I believe this is the best that baseball has to offer. ( )
  chrisblocker | Mar 30, 2013 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:52 -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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Average: (3.64)
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1.5 5
2 14
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3 63
3.5 18
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