I can't think of many things that bore me more than the sport of baseball. I hopped on the Brewer bandwagon after they started doing so well this season not because I started to like the sport, oh no. I did it because I like to tailgate and I generally enjoy anything that gives me an excuse to take off work to drink beers at noon. With that being said, I wasn't sure I'd like The Art of Fielding. I got it for my birthday back in September but didn't pick it up until recently because I thought like the sport itself, this book would bore me. Man, was I wrong. This was one of the best and one of the most captivating books I have read all year.
The Art of Fielding follows a baseball team at a small liberal arts college in Wisconsin. Specifically we get to know Henry, the most promising player on the team, Schwartz, the team captain, Owen, Henry's eccentric roommate and teammate, Affenlight, the president of the school and his daughter Pella, who just returned to the Midwest after a short, failed marriage. These five central characters struggle to maintain happiness and find their way among the pressures and anxieties they are faced with. At its heart, this book is about relationships. It examines the relationships we have with others and more significantly, the relationship we have with ourselves. It's about new starts and new love, and learning to find your place among others.
Each of us, deep down, believes that the whole world issues from his own precious body, like images projected from a tiny slide onto an earth-sized screen. And then, deeper down, each of us knows he’s wrong.It's hard to believe this is Harbach's first novel, because it's exponentially better than 99% of the other debut novels that I've read. Both the place and the characters Harbach has created are so fully realized that I can't help but wonder what they might be up to now. All in all, I didn't want this book to end.
However, I did have reservations near the end, for two reasons. (Don't worry, no specific spoilers.) One, everything was wrapped up a little two neatly for my taste and two, there was an instance that seemed incredibly unrealistic in an otherwise realistic narrative. However, the book as a whole was so incredible that I wouldn't let my tendency to be picky about endings stop you from reading this book.Whether you are a baseball fan or your'e not, if you're human you will enjoy this book.
Publisher: Little, Brown, 2011