The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

The Art of Fielding

Reviewed by Allen Hott

As a reviewer I will be honest and explain that basically I read mysteries, suspense stories, sports stories of all types, and even historical novels. But I have never considered reading “literature” since my school days long ago.

However The Art of Fielding, at least to me qualifies as literature. This is quite a story and it is a riveting one! Chad Harbach has taken baseball with all of its quirks, smells, and primarily male composites and used it to write a terrific intense tale.

Perhaps instead of The Art of Fielding Harbach might have named the book, Feelings because that literally describes the story. Schwartz, the heart and soul of Wetish College sports, spots a shortstop from South Dakota in an American Legion game. Schwartz is so in awe of the ability of Henry that he finagles a scholarship to Wetish for him.

Under the guidance of hard-nosed Schwartz, Henry begins building his body which has been very undernourished it appears. And he also develops his hitting abilities until by the end of his freshman year Henry has become one of the stars of Wetish and their conference.

While all of this is transpiring Schwartz begins having an affair with the daughter of Wetish College’s president. Pella has just retuned to be with her dad and reenter the collegiate world. She and Schwartz seem to be a perfect pair.

The other major event outside of the baseball world, at least somewhat outside of it, is that President Affenlight, Pella’s dad, appears to have undergone a strange transformation. Although he has always been a typical female loving man somehow he begins to have feelings for one of his students.

The infusion of romance, if that is what these two situations really are, enters into the story but doesn’t really detract from baseball and Henry. If anything they become quite intermeshed with the whole plot. Henry continues his growth as an outstanding baseball player and is being viewed by some major league baseball scouts as quite a prospect for their clubs.

And although Wetish’s baseball team has perennially been pretty much a loser during Henry’s junior year the team really takes off and great things are on the horizon.

As in typical in any well written book the plot of The Art of Fielding not only evolves but it goes into several directions. The reader is easily carried along through these various changes because Harbach has done an excellent job of really building an interesting story. Hard hit balls go to all the characters and their methods of responding roll along without any errors! Harbach uses baseball for a background and depot for all of the feelings his characters show. Regardless of your love of baseball or not, this is a book for everyone and is truly a great read.

Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255

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