Monday, 23 January 2012

Book of the Week - Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach is a first novel about baseball, and this is likely to limit its appeal within the UK. As someone who crosses the Atlantic quite regularly, I like basesball, although the finer points of its rules and appealare about as well understood here as the finer points and appeal of cricket are in the US. Do you need to like baseball to appreciate this book? I don’t think so, but it will probably help. As Harbach has said, “What fascinates me about baseball is that although it’s a team game, and a team becomes a kind of family, the players on the field are each very much alone. Your teammates depend on you and support you, but at the moments that count they can’t bail you out.” And I suspect that this is what the novel is really about, with the sport as a background.

The Art of Fielding was released in the US towards the end of last year to a very positive reception, and UK reviewers have also liked it. Is it an important book? Well, Vainty Fair have released a separate e-book about how it came to be written, so some people certainly thing so. The UK first edition has just been released, published by Fourth Estate. Harbach paid a brief visit to the UK to sign, so you may be able to pick a signed copy up if you are lucky.

"At Westish College, the baseball star Henry Skrimshander flourishes until one of his throws goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of the error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry finds himself mired in self-doubt, his life's purpose called into question. Guert Affenlight, the college's president, has fallen helplessly in love. Mike Schwartz, the student-coach, realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. Owen Glass, Henry's gay roommate, is caught in his own drama of unexpected love. And Pella Affenlight, the president's daughter, has returned to Westish after an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life. As the season counts down to its climax, these five confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. Written with an almost superhuman affection and insight into character and emotion, THE ART OF FIELDINGis a tender depiction of young people finding their paths and a riveting exploration of ambition, family, and love."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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