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Matthew Harbour

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The Art of Fielding
The Art of Fielding
by Chad Harbach
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A sentimental coming of age story in small town America, 1 April 2012
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This review is from: The Art of Fielding (Hardcover)
The Art of Fielding was a thoroughly enjoyable read, full of engaging characters and a believable if slightly clichéd plot-line. A basic understanding of baseball is recommended though far from essential as the writing conveys the emotion of the moment so well throughout that the reader will always appreciate the impact of the events as they unfold.

The main theme of the novel, a contemporary coming of age tale, is interwoven with intricate and emotionally charged sub-plots that tackle taboos such as homosexuality, substance abuse, student-teacher relationships and mortality. Whilst the tone at times is solemn (and in my opinion perhaps too much so for some of the final third, where every character appears to be dealing with the collapse of some important part of their life), the success of the college sport team and the friendships and camaraderie that form as a result are a heart-warming contrast.

This was a solid debut novel, and I will certainly be looking to read Harbach's next, which hopefully won't be quite so long in the making. Highly recommended.


Bill Bryson's African Diary
Bill Bryson's African Diary
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Hardcover

43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Feels like a donation to care to me, 27 Dec. 2002
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As a big fan of Bryson I ordered this shortly after it came out and awaited its delivery. First thing is the size - at about half an inch thick it is rather thin. Its a hardback as well, so thats about a quater of an inch of text. But yet it goes on, take away the 5 pages of copyright info at the start and 8 pages of adverts for Care at the end, plus the 8 pages of photos in the middle (although photos are good, they aren't why we buy Bryson) we are left with only 49 pages of text. With only 24 lines of text per page you are looking at a 20-30 minute read in total.
The small amount of Bryson in here is entertaining. His familiar ability of getting himself somewhere he really cant handle gets him again. But this time he has guides with him to ensure no wrong happens to him. He is witty, informative and has great short anecdotes but there is far too little.
The whole thing feels like an advert to Care, the title African Diary is very misleading -"8 days rushing around Kenya and writing 4/5 pages per day" would be a better title. Even Bryson himself says "You made a generous donation to a worthy cause and got a free book in return" shame it wasnt a book worth reading.


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