The Art of Fielding, Chad Harbach

**** ½

The Art of Fielding 

Author: Chad Harbach

First Edition: Back Bay Books, 2011

Original language: English 


Harbach’s novel deals with the life of Henry Skrimshander at Westish College.  Henry, in his senior year of high school and with no prospects for college, is spotted by Mike Schwartz, who sees Henry’s potential right away.  Schwartz takes Henry under his wing, getting him a scholarship to Westish College and drilling and coaching him into one of the most promising shortstops in history.

It seems like Henry is on top of the world and on the brink of becoming a major league player, until one bad throw changes everything.   The novel chronicles Henry’s rise and fall as a Westish baseball star and recounts the lives of Henry’s friends and teammates, as well as the school’s charismatic president, Guert Affenlight and the return of his daughter, Pella, after eloping and not speaking to her father for four years.


“Every day is a war.  Yes, yes it was.  The key os to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”

“She’d gotten so far ahead of the curve that the curve became a circle, and now she was way behind.”

 “Schwartz knew that people loved to suffer, as long as the suffering made sense.  Everybody suffered.  The key was to choose the form of your suffering.”

“but no matter how much he chattered or cheered or bounced around, there was always something frighteningly aloof in his eyes, like a soloist so at one with the music he can’t be reached.  You can’t follow me here, those mild blue eyes seemed to say.  You’ll never know what this is like.”


It seemed that for a while everyone talked about this book, and there wasn’t a bookstore, online or not, that had featured this book in one way or another.  I resisted because I’m really not a fan of baseball.  Then, booksoustidethebox recommended it to me and I finally gave in and got it on my kindle.  I’m so glad that I did.

First of all, it felt like a John Irving novel, for some reason.  (I absolutely love John Irving).  I guess it was the college – sexuality- homosexuality themes that I found so familiar.  Anyway, I loved the way the story was told and Harbach’s narrative voice.  Classic Irving, with a bit of a twist.

The baseball didn’t bother me one bit.  The story was so well told and by the second chapter you are so involved with the characters that the baseball becomes kind of interesting, and by the end it is positively exciting.  I also loved how the characters loved their college so much that the reader ends up caring about it too.  Mike Schwartz and Guert Affenlight were my favorite characters.  This was a great book, thanks, Erynn for the recommendation!

If you liked this book, I recommend:

  • The World According to Garp, John Irving

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