The Art of Fielding

The Art of Fielding

3.97 (111,910 ratings by Goodreads)
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At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.

Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry's gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners' team captain and Henry's best friend, realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert's daughter, 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. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 512 pages
  • 165 x 236 x 38mm | 771g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0316126691
  • 9780316126694
  • 349,126

Review Text

"Reading The Art of Fielding is like watching a hugely gifted young shortstop: you keep waiting for the errors, but there are no errors. First novels this complete and consuming come along very, very seldom."-Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom
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Review quote

"Large-hearted... Harbach writes about the Harpooners with touching intimacy (and an impressive knowledge of baseball).... expansive, thought-provoking and ambitious... This is a big book in every way... If The Art of Fielding begins as a baseball story, so it ends as one, too--poignantly, beautifully, and improbably."--David Goodwillie, The Daily Beast
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About Chad Harbach

Chad Harbach grew up in Wisconsin, and graduated from Harvard in 1997. He was a Henry Hoyns Fellow at the University of Virginia, where he received an MFA in Fiction in 2004. He is currently a co-editor of n+1, which he cofounded, and lives in Virginia.
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Rating details

111,910 ratings
3.97 out of 5 stars
5 33% (36,525)
4 41% (46,132)
3 19% (20,852)
2 5% (5,624)
1 2% (2,777)

Our customer reviews

Mike Schwartz is the baseball team catcher and captain at Westish College when he sees Henry Skrimshander, a short but extremely quick and talented player from another team in South Dakota, practicing fielding after a game. In a short time, Henry is a student at Westish himself, with Mike having charmed his parents into allowing him to attend. He shares a dorm room with Owen Dunne, a mulatto who is also the winner of the Maria Westish Award. Both dorm-mates have and prize their own copies of "The Art of Fielding" by Aparicio Rodriguez, one of the greatest shortstops of all time. Told in shifting 1st- and 3rd-person perspectives, this is more than a book about baseball, or even about baseball players. This novel is an absorbing contemplation of the human spirit, with its foibles, failures, and triumphs. From President Guert Affenlight's secret love affair, a betrayal among friends, a convoluted love triangle, and the emotions that breathe from the pages, this is a story that will have the reader FEELING. For me, to feel the emotions of the characters, to share in their victories and despair, to somehow feel invested in the outcome, whether good or bad - THAT is the mark of a great read. Even in the pathos that is sometimes engendered in its pages, this is a novel that will leave most lovers of character-driving fiction breathing that long sigh that comes at the end of a great, satisfying read - the sigh that says, "I'm sorry it's over, but what a wonderful trip that was." The writing is superb, the characters are so sympathetic, the story is so real - definitely a must-read. QUOTES All his life Schwartz had yearned to possess some single transcendent talent, some unique brilliance that the world would consent to call genius. Now that he'd seen that kind of talent up close, he couldn't let it walk away. "Remember when it was easy to be a man? Now we're all supposed to look like Captain Abercrombie here. Six-pack abs, three-percent body fat. All that crap. Me, I hearken back to a simpler time." Schwartz patted his thick, sturdy midriff. "A time when a hairy back meant something." "Profound loneliness?" Starblind offered. "Warmth. Survival. Evolutionary advantage. Back then, a man's wife and children would burrow into his back hair and wait out the winter. Nymphs would braid it and praise it in song. God's wrath waxed hot against the hairless tribes." Putting Henry at shortstop - it was like taking a painting that had been shoved in a closet and hanging it in the ideal spot. You instantly forgot what the room had looked like before. Schwartz would never live in a world so open. His would always be occluded by the fact that his understanding and his ambition outstripped his talent. He'd never be as good as he wanted to be, not at baseball, not at football, not at reading Greek or taking the LSAT. And beyond all that he'd never be as good as he wanted to be. He'd never found anything inside himself that was really good and pure, that wasn't double-edged, that couldn't just as easily become its opposite. He had tried and failed to find that thing, and he would continue to try and rail, or else he would leave off trying, and keep on failing. He had no art to call his own. He knew how to motivate people, manipulate people, move them around; this was his only skill. He was like a minor Greek god you've barely heard of, who sees through the glamour of the armor and down into the petty complexity of each soldier's soul. And in the end is powerless to bring about anything resembling his vision. The loftier, arbitrary gods intervene. Writing: 4.5 out of 5 stars Plot: 5 out of 5 stars Characters: 5 out of 5 stars Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars BOOK RATING: 4.75 out of 5 stars Sensitive Reader: There are both heterosexual and homosexual references and short, non-graphic sex more
by Julie Smith
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