The Art of Fielding

Chad Harbach, Author
Chad Harbach. Little, Brown, $25.99 (512p) ISBN 978-0-316-12669-4
Reviewed on: 07/25/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
Hardcover - 512 pages - 978-0-316-18751-0
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61113-186-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-61113-184-0
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-61113-185-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-61113-210-6
Paperback - 512 pages
Hardcover - 14 pages - 978-0-85735-530-0
Ebook - 450 pages - 978-0-00-737446-5
Paperback - 528 pages - 978-957-13-5609-9
Paperback - 440 pages - 978-89-527-6469-0
Hardcover - 512 pages - 978-0-00-737444-1
Hardcover - 724 pages - 978-0-316-20472-9
Open Ebook - 291 pages - 978-0-316-19218-7
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-61113-786-6
Paperback - 450 pages - 978-0-00-741869-5
Open Ebook - 978-0-316-19216-3
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-00-737445-8
Paperback - 656 pages - 978-0-00-746494-4
Paperback - 444 pages - 978-89-527-6468-3
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Recalling works as disparate as Chaim Potok's The Chosen, John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, and Scott Lasser's Battle Creek, Harbach's big-hearted and defiantly old-fashioned debut demonstrates the rippling effects of a single baseball gone awry. When college shortstop phenom Henry Skrimshander accidentally beans teammate Owen Dunne with a misplaced throw, it starts a chain reaction on the campus of Westish College, "that little school in the crook of the baseball glove that is Wisconsin." Owen is solicitously visited in the hospital by school president Guert Affenlight, a widower, who falls in love with the seductive gay student, a "serious breech of professional conduct" that sends potentially devastating ripples through the school. Affenlight's daughter, Pella, after a failed marriage in San Francisco, returns to become part of a love triangle with Henry and Mike Schwartz, the team captain and Henry's unofficial mentor. And just when Henry's hopes of playing for the St. Louis Cardinals come within reach, he suffers a crisis of confidence, even as his team makes a rousing run at the championship. Through it all, Henry finds inspiration in the often philosophically tinged teachings found in The Art of Fielding ("Death is the sanction of all that the athlete does"), by a fictional retired shortstop. Harbach manages incisive characterizations of his five main players, even as his narrative, overlong and prone to affectation, tests the reader's patience.(Sept.)