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The Art of Fielding: A Novel by Chad Harbach

The Art of Fielding: A Novel (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Chad Harbach (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,7302382,539 (3.96)234
"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.
Title:The Art of Fielding: A Novel
Authors:Chad Harbach (Author)
Info:Back Bay Books (2012), Edition: Reprint, 544 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (2011)

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» See also 234 mentions

English (232)  Dutch (4)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (238)
Showing 1-5 of 232 (next | show all)
This was a sweet book, I enjoyed it even though I hardly know anything about baseball. Harbach makes you care about the characters, which for a decidedly non-jock reader is quite a feat. ( )
  flemertown | Jul 10, 2021 |
This was an enjoyable book. It got lots of great reviews and I resisted for a time as it seemed to be about baseball, at least in part. But no matter, it is really more about coming of age, about a fictional midwest college town, about success and failure and becoming yourself. Its ensemble of characters are good company for the duration and Harbach is a fine writer. ( )
  jdukuray | Jun 23, 2021 |
Outstanding. I'm a fan. I could not put this one down, even for sleep. The characters are still knocking around in my head. Like Henry and his Westish days, I did not want to let this one go when I reached the end. ( )
  mbellucci | Apr 10, 2021 |
I picked up The Art of Fielding at a used book sale a couple of years ago because I remembered that there was a lot of buzz around it when it was first published. I love sports movies, e.g. Rudy, Hoosiers, etc. so I figured a novel about baseball would be right up my alley.

Henry Skrimshander comes to Westish College to play baseball. He was the star of his high school team and is the star of the Westish team until a wild throw of his injures somebody. From then on out, he has the yips, i.e. the inability to throw a baseball accurately. This causes a ripple effect through the lives of the other people in his life – his roommate and teammate Owen, his mentor Mike, the school’s president Guert and Guert’s daughter Pella.

I enjoyed the first three-quarters of this book a lot. The author weaves an intricate cloth with all five main characters’ lives. While baseball is definitely part of the story, there’s quite a bit more to it. It’s also about the relationships between the five main characters. It’s hard to go into too much detail without spoilers but I will say that some of the relationships are not healthy.

So that last quarter of the book…it was so out of left-field (pun intended!) that it actually made me a little angry. This book is over 500 pages long so to have invested quite a bit of time in it and for it to have such a disappointing and weird ending was unsatisfying, to say the least. I would give the first three-quarters of this book four stars and the last quarter two stars. Take that for what you will! ( )
  mcelhra | Mar 25, 2021 |
A friend tweeted about this book, and I replied with interest. The next day, a copy arrived in the mail from I know not whom. Four days later, I've finished it. This is maybe not a great book, but I think it is a good one. Harbach claims David Foster Wallace as an influence (and sought out DFW's editor Michael Pietsch to edit the book), but his style and approach are more like Franzen's (who blurbed the book). That said, the things I find so irritating in Franzen are much more muted in The Art of Fielding. A fan of both Melville and baseball, I was pretty much the exact target audience for the novel, and I especially enjoyed the bits about baseball. If Harbach hasn't done to baseball quite the justice Wallace did to tennis, I think he has in any case written about a sport many think of as dull in a way that many would find exciting.

The adults in the book are a bit too childish and the kids on the whole a bit more adult than most in their early twenties (perhaps this is Franzen's influence). None of the characters strike me as wholly authentic (in a book in basically a realist tradition), but several are sympathetic and fairly compelling.

Harbach turns a few nice phrases but ignites no real stylistic pyrotechnics -- which is probably smart but which, as with many other authors generally regarded to be solid authors, leaves me a little cold. His prose does come off as effortless, and it goes down easily. It's a quick read, almost a beach type read, and this too I find a little disappointing. There's much to be made of the male kinship that existed on whalers and that exists in athletics; Harbach aims glancing blows at some of the possible material but leaves a lot of it on the table, opting instead to give us lighter, Franzen-esque melodrama.

It's a good book that I enjoyed and actually had trouble putting down (with an ending I quite liked), but I think it could have been a great book. I wonder if it wasn't made more palatable and melodramatic during editing for the sake of selling copies to pay off the unlikely $650k auction price it fetched. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 232 (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)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chad Harbachprimary authorall editionscalculated
Graham, HolterNarratorsecondary authorsome 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)

"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.

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Book description
Affecting, subtle, funny, and true. The Art of Fielding is mere baseball fiction the way Moby-Dick is just a fish story. Reading the Art of Fielding is like watching a hugely gifted young short stop: you keep waiting for the errors, but there are no errors. First novels this complete and consuming come along very, very seldom.
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Average: (3.96)
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1.5 4
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