Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: The Art of Fielding

Henry Skrimshander lives and breathes baseball. As shortstop, he has an uncanny knack for knowing where to be, where the ball is going, and then where to throw the ball. Graceful. No waste of motion. Fluid. He's destined for the Big Show - to be recruited by the St.Louis Cardinals and live the dream. Meanwhile, he's on scholarship at Westish College in Michigan and learning about life.

However, a routine throw goes disastrously off course and the fate of five people are upended.

College president Guert Affenlight and his daughter Pella are becoming reacquainted. Owen, Henry's gay roommate and teammate, has an affair that proves problematic. Mike Schwartz, Henry's team captain and mentor, has been too caught up in Henry's career path to worry about his own. Then Henry himself must confront fears, hopes, anxieties, and the season countdown to the finals.

With The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach has written a delightful tale of youth, sport, ambition, and limitations. His characters are fully drawn and irresistably flawed. The love of baseball shines through and is an excellent backdrop for life choices.

Here's a style sample (p. 5): The kid glided in front of the first grounder, accepted the ball into his glove with a lazy grace, pivoted, and threw to first. Though his motion was languid, the ball seemed to explode off his fingertips, to gather speed as it crossed the diamond.

Thus we meet Henry. You'll root for him and enjoy this pleasant worthwhile read.


  1. You know a book is great when you wonder at the words and when you love it even if it's on a subject you know nothing about. This sounds like one of those, for me.

  2. Indeed, Helen. You'll just enjoy the characters and the flow. The baseball occurs but is the backdrop for sheer living.