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Customer Review

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An enthusiast's novel., 2 Nov. 2011
This review is from: The Art of Fielding (Hardcover)
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"The Art of Fielding" by Chad Harbach

I was intrigued by the title of Chad Harbach's novel "The Art of Fielding", wondering who Fielding was and what art he practised. It turns out to be about baseball players - the art of fielding on a baseball pitch figures largely in the plot. There are five main characters in the book - the president of a college, President Affenlight, and his unhappily married daughter, Pella, and three students, Henry, Mike and Owen. The book traces their relationships and growth over a three year period. Henry is the main focus and his progress as a wizard fielder in the college baseball team is the thread on which the entire story hangs. The book is long, crowded with incident and has narrative drive.

The length of the book would lead one to believe that the author has given himself plenty of room to describe the development of his characters but a considerable part of the book is devoted to descriptions of baseball matches, using a lot of technical terms in the process. English ball games make my eyes glaze over. American ball games seem even more alienating - all those odd poses, terms and body armour and lots of people called "Coach" only add to the bafflement. That funny one-legged stance pitchers take before they throw seems to defy logic. Consequently I felt the author had devoted too much space to these games and not enough to his characters. They lack a historical hinterland. Their histories are dealt with in a most cursory manner giving the impression that they have arrived at college from nowhere. How they were formed and the origins of their attitudes and values would have been really helpful. As it is we are catapulted into a situation like travellers without a map.

The story's arc is believably open-ended if somewhat less than satisfying with no neat gathering together of all the threads at the end. No doubt someone who empathises with obsessional baseball players will be able to appreciate this novel better than I. Despite my lack of engagement the book held me which says something about Mr. Harbach's story-telling prowess.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Jan 2012 21:04:09 GMT
Vodafone says:
I heard it reviewd on Radio 2 tonight and was tempeted to buy, now I don't know???
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Location: Greater Manchester UK

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