If it weren't for the Morning News Tournament of Books, I would never have read The Art of Fielding. Baseball? No thanks. But have no fear — it's not really a book about baseball. Henry Skrimshander is a shortstop prodigy who lives and breathes baseball. Luckily, he is talented enough to catch the eye of Mike Schwartz, the de facto student coach of all things sporty at Westish College in Wisconsin. Henry can't believe his luck as he is suddenly accepted into college, playing shortstop for a real team, and about to match the all-time professional record for error-free games. But things never work out this well, do they? What follows is an anxious and uneasy coming-of-age story, which rings absolutely true and comes complete with a shattering identity crisis. Chad Harbach manages to convey the degrading, confusing, and humiliating realities of this period of life, all the while his characters are insinuating themselves thoroughly into your heart. Woven throughout is one of the most truly radiant, yet at the same time, deeply distressing, love stories I've ever come across. Thank you, Tournament of Books, for forcing me to read this! Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.
As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is mere baseball fiction the way Moby Dick is just a fish story (Nicholas Dawidoff). Itis an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others.