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The Art of Fielding Paperback – 16 Apr 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (16 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007374453
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007374458
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 21,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘It's left a little hole in my life the way a really good book will’ Jonathan Franzen

‘This is an outstanding novel about sport and, in Henry Skrimshander, Harbach has created a character who will keep sports psychologists in conversation for years’ Mike Atherton, The Times

‘Charming, warm-hearted, addictive’ Guardian

‘Once started The Art of Fielding is a book you want to read and read. It is deliciously old-fashioned: it simply gets on with the business of creating vivid, layered characters and telling a good, engrossing story’ Daily Telegraph

‘An intricate, poised, tingling debut … leaves you longing, lingering, and a baseball convert long after the last page’ Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger’s Wife, winner of the Orange Prize

‘Chad Harbach has hit a game-ender with The Art of Fielding. It’s pure fun, easy to read, as if the other Fielding had a hand in it — as if Tom Jones were about baseball and college life.’ John Irving

Steeped in American tradition, this moving debut hits a home run…What in less skilled hands might have been a light comic novel evolves into a debut of great warmth and weight… This is a charming, moving and slyly profound novel. You might even say Chad Harbach hit this one out of the park’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Every bit as good as billed. A big, beautiful blowout of a book, sure and generous, it reads like a throwback to the mid-20th century, when American literature was in its pomp… an exceptional debut’ Guardian

‘A terrifically engaging novel… you will be rewarded by a page-turning, beguiling and wonderfully warm-hearted read’. Sunday Times

‘The baseball sequences are terrific… Harbach captures precisely the strangely becalmed grace that sets sportsmen like Henry apart…Very good indeed’ Independent

About the Author

Chad Harbach grew up in Wisconsin, and graduated from Harvard in 1997. He was a Henry Hoyns Fellow at the University of Virginia, where he received an MFA in Fiction in 2004. He is currently the Executive Editor of n+1, which he co-founded, and lives in Brooklyn.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jackie on 5 Jan. 2012
Format: Hardcover
I hate watching sport, know nothing about baseball and haven't enjoyed a sports themed book before (not that I've read many - I tend to avoid them), but increasing enthusiasm for The Art of Fielding persuaded me to give it a try. I'm pleased that I did as this is a modern classic that will be talked about for years to come.

The first few chapters did their best to put me off - I could see the writing quality, but the endless baseball references did nothing for me.

"Henry played shortstop, only and ever shortstop - the most demanding spot on the diamond. More ground balls were hit to the shortstop than anyone else, and then he had to make the longest throw to first. He also had to turn double-plays, cover second on steals, keep runners on second from taking long leads, make relay throws from the outfield. Every Little League coach Henry had ever had took one look at him and pointed toward right field or second base. Or else coach didn't point anywhere, just shrugged at the fate that had assigned him this pitiable shrimp, this born benchwarmer."

Without the hype I would probably have abandoned this book after the first few pages, but I persevered and at page 50 I was rewarded with chapter 6 which didn't mention baseball at all. Instead it introduced Moby Dick, an English professor and a glimpse of the magical writing Chad Harbach is capable of when he talks about something other than sport.

As the book progressed I became increasingly attached to the characters in the book and completed its 500 pages in a surprisingly quick time, but on reaching the end I found I was quietly impressed rather than bowled over with excitement. I didn't find anything particularly new or interesting in The Art of Fielding.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"The Art of Fielding" is basically a US-style campus novel featuring baseball. There are similarities in style between this and many of John Irving's works, with baseball substituting for Irving's wrestling focus. This, to the UK-reader, raises the first potential barrier as we are, as a rule, largely ignorant of the US fixation with the intricacies of baseball. Certainly you don't need an in depth knowledge to appreciate this story - it is really a story of friendship, ambition and the sporting dreams of youth - but despite a loose understanding of the sport I felt that I would have benefitted from more knowledge particularly towards the end when there is a climatic baseball match. You kind of get the point, but I certainly felt that I was missing out on a little of the tension, in much the same way I'd expect a US reader to be perplexed if the story had been based on say, cricket. It's a minor flaw though and it would be a shame if potential readers dismissed it for this reason.

For me, a more serious issue was that after a strong start - as a young Henry Skrimshander, a baseball fielding prodigy in the Roy of the Rovers manner (to horribly mix sports) is spotted by college über-jock Mike Schwartz and encouraged to enroll at the preppy but academically minor Westish College - the middle of the book loses it's way a little and kind of drifts along for a while, before things rush to a slightly unsatisfying and unbelievable ending.

Once arrived at Westish, Henry is roomed with gay, fellow teammate (although he appears to do little to warrant his place on the team preferring to read on the bench), Owen.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Denis Vukosav on 16 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
"The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach is a debut novel that somehow resembles classic "Moby Dick" novel although instead whaling, the main motive is baseball.

This novel actually has five main characters, students in campus, although sometimes it seems that the most important only one named Henry, whose life paths are interwoven in good in bad way through a whole book that although entertaining seems in its last third sometimes too long (without the need).
And although the baseball is its main motive, it doesn't require to even knowing the rules for it, even after you will read it maybe you'll want to look a match or two.

The story starts with an unimportant tournament when guy named Henry Skrimshander will impress student coach Mike Schwartz, who will recruit him to Westish College in Wisconsin and they two will become good friends.

The novel's title is a fictional book about baseball that is Henry's inspiration and gives him strength whenever he is feeling low, that was written by a retired guy who holds record for number of games without any any errors.
Henry dreams about meeting him and even beat his record, but achieving it would need him to go through lot of crisis, and lacks of confidence.

Also here is the Owen character, who is Henry's roommate, a smart guy, who is not so more into baseball but his role will be shown important later in the novel.

Also, there are two more important characters.
First is Guert, who is college president looking much younger than his 60 having one daughter named Pella who run away and married an older architect, and whose only obsession is Owen which continuously destroys his life.
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