Chad Harbach's The Art of Fielding will be published by Little, Brown. The first printing is 75,000 copies, and writers as disparate as Jonathan Franzen and James Patterson have praised it. Yet Harbach reports that success has been a long time in the making—10 years, to be exact. He says, "In the first years, I had a good idea for a novel, but no idea how to write one. I would write and write and write and then abandon or bury or rework what I'd done. If you went back through my notebooks (I usually write by hand) and my computer files for the decade, you'd say, ‘Man, what a lunatic!' There are millions of words in there."
Little, Brown president Michael Pietsch, who acquired The Art of Fielding from agent Chris Parris-Lamb of the Gernert Company, says the resulting novel is "a simple story on its face: several people meet at a Midwestern college and their lives become intertwined. Somehow these characters project a vulnerability and openness to what life holds for them that's almost unbearably endearing."
Harbach, one of the founding editors of the literary magazine n+1, says, "The germ of the novel is a psychological condition that baseball fans know as Steve Blass disease, whereby a player, for mysterious reasons, becomes unable to throw the ball accurately. Doubt creeps in, the mind interferes, and what once was as simple as breathing comes to seem impossible. It fascinated me as a very dramatic analogy to what other kinds of artists go through in struggling against writer's block, or stage fright, or other forms of self-doubt."