Search This Blog

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

The Art of Fielding  is one of my favorite books this year.  Not because of the plot, but because of the baseball.  My favorite parts were the descriptions of Henry Skrimshander's fielding ability, the practices, and the games.  Harbach can romance the action on the field with remarkable clarity, and I love these sections.

Another favorite part--the excerpts from the fictitious book The Art of Fielding by Aparicio Rodriguez:

"The glove is not an object in the usual sense," said Aparicio in The Art of Fielding.  "For the infielder to divide it from himself, even in thought, is one of the roots of error."

"The shortstop is a source of stillness at the center of the defense.  He projects this stillness and his teammates respond."
"To field a ground ball must be considered a generous act and an act of comprehension....
Aparicio's book is the only book that Henry takes with him to Westish College, but for him, the book is a mentor and a philosophy.

The first half of the book was excellent, and I enjoyed all of the Melville connections, even the name Skrimshander evokes scrimshaw and images of whaling.  As the complications involving the relationships began taking more precedence, however, I felt much less attached.

Nominated for a Pulitzer (although it did not win), the book has garnered great praise and severe criticism.  I loved the book, but did feel that some of the relationships off the field were a bit forced, nor did the last few chapters work that well for me.

It isn't a book that I'll forget; it will linger much longer than many of the books I read.

Fiction.  Contemporary Lit.  2011.  512 pages.


  1. I had a chance to speak with Harback at last year's Texas Book Festival and his love (and understanding) of the game is what most impressed me about what he had to say about "The Art of Fielding." Like you, I was less impressed with some of the intricacies of the plots and characters, but will long remember it for its baseball sections.

  2. I love it that you didn't like all the relationships and yet you still think it will stick to your ribs. That's high praise. Hope to try this one, eventually.

  3. Sam - What a great opportunity to speak to Harbeck! I really loved the way he wrote about the game and about Henry's grace on the field.

    Nancy - The writing was great, especially his descriptions of the players and their games.