Certainly one of the most buzzed-about books of the fall, Chad Harbach’s debut is a generous old-fashioned novel of baseball and literature at a small Wisconsin college. Diane’s review really says it all as far as teen appeal goes, so I will leave it to her.
Variety reports that The Art of Fielding has been optioned by HBO for a series.
For more, take a look at this WSJ Speakeasy interview with the author.
HARBACH, Chad. The Art of Fielding. 512p. Little, Brown. 2011. Tr $25.99. ISBN 978-0-316-12669-4. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–When Henry Skrimshander plays shortstop, it’s like watching fine ballet. His mystical ability attracts the attention of Mike Schwartz, a baseball player from tiny Westish College, who acts as the de facto recruiter for the team. So Henry arrives at Westish to begin his freshperson year, armed with his trusty baseball glove, Zero, and his battered copy of The Art of Fielding, written by Henry’s idol, Aparicio Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a legendary shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals, holds the record for consecutive errorless games, which Henry may break. If he doesn’t choke, that is. Choking is something of a theme in this wonderful novel. Westish President Affenlight is choking back his love for Henry’s roommate, Owen, a Zenlike boy who is affectionately dubbed “Buddah.” Affenlight’s daughter, Pella, is choking on the challenge of finding her own path after she flees her stifling marriage. And Henry does choke, on the field and in life, as his magical baseball abilities seem to disappear. Teens who like baseball, or any sport, will appreciate the rough camaraderie of the team and the pressure on an athlete to perform perfectly. There is plenty of romance as well. The book is filled with literary allusions, particularly to the works of Melville, but it is also funny, bittersweet, and peppered with kooky plot twists that keep readers entranced. This is a great introduction to modern writers who blend the everyday with the philosophical, such as Jonathan Franzen or Tom Perrotta.–Diane Colson, formerly of New Port Richey Library, FL