The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found this book to be much better than I'd initially expected. I'd avoided it for awhile because of the whole baseball piece - I wasn't interested in reading about baseball. But, this book is about so much more than baseball. It's a book with much more depth than I'd expected. That isn't to say that it was without flaws ... but it was a pleasant surprise! I understand now why its getting all of this attention and why its sitting on so many best of lists this year!
I was struck by how deliberate every single component of this book was - it felt very .... well, deliberate. I'm not sure how else to describe it. The plotting, the dialogue - it was all very tight. I liked that about the book but there were times when I almost wished for a bit more looseness to shake up writing on occasion. When I think of the novel as a whole, the construction of the story is so well done so perhaps the deliberateness of the writing contributed to that!
Like I said above, this is a novel that certainly touches on baseball and sports but that isn't the primary focus. I didn't think the sports piece was boring or annoying like I'd expected. I found it to be thoughtful and interesting. It added to the story but didn't overtake the story. If you like baseball and know about the sport, I think you'll probably get even more out of it than someone who doesn't. But, it won't detract form the overall story if you could care less about sports or baseball.
The characters in this novel were fantastic and one of my favorite things about the book. It is full of well rounded characters that could certainly have been the star of their very own novels. I loved how they connected with each other, I loved their back stories and I loved the arc of each of their journeys.
I loved the first part of the book much more than the end. Which isn't to say that it ruined the book for me. Instead, the ending just wasn't as effective as it could have been. I found it a bit outlandish and not nearly as good as the rest of the book. But, it was ok. I was just hoping for an ending as good as the early parts of the book.
As an aside - I found Chad Harbach's character names hilarious - several of them made me laugh out loud. Completely unrealistic but hilarious. I mean how many people at one small university could possibly have such crazy names!
All in all, I was very glad to read this one. It's a fantastic read and definitely one that I recommend (even if you aren't a sports fan)!
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