Ciska's Book Chest

I am an eclectic reader with preferences for crime/thriller/suspense, historical fiction, literature and contemporary fiction. For more books and other bookish posts visit my blog at Ciska's Book Chest

The Art of Fielding

The Art of Fielding - Chad Harbach The authorHarbach grew up in Racine, Wisconsin, his father an accountant, his mother the head of a Montessori school. Harbach graduated from Harvard University, where he became friendly with fellow writers and journalists Keith Gessen and Benjamin Kunkel. He received an M.F.A. from the University of Virginia.In 2004, Mark Greif, Gessen, Harbach, Kunkel, and Marco Roth launched the literary journal n + 1; Harbach had come up with the name as early as 1998. Harbach is both an editor and writer for the journal, contributing essays on environmentalism, David Foster Wallace, and the Boston Red Sox.Harbach worked on his baseball novel, The Art of Fielding, for nine years. In high school, Harbach had played baseball, along with golf and basketball; in March, 2010, he told Bloomberg News, “What fascinates me about baseball is that although it’s a team game, and a team becomes a kind of family, the players on the field are each very much alone. Your teammates depend on you and support you, but at the moments that count they can’t bail you out.”After a heated auction, the book was acquired and published by Little, Brown in the fall of 2011. A Vanity Fair e-book describing the writing and publication of the novel was recently released. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chad_Harbach)The synopsisAt Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry's gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners' team captain and Henry's best friend, realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert's daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others. (https://www.facebook.com/TheArtofFielding?sk=info)The reviewHmm, what to say, what to say. This book has a couple of very good reviews, high ratings and enthusiastic blurbs on the net. As a fan of the game and a good story I was having high expectations of this book. But it the book was actually disappointing.First characters and description. I honestly still do not have any idea what the main character of the book looks like. He has a bit more or less hair at some point and a bit more and way less weight in muscles. That is what I can recall of his looks. What becomes clear too is that he hates to talk. This is a problem with all the characters, you get one or two main things about them and a bunch of small things but it is not enough to tickle you imagination. If this would be made in a film I could not point out one actor who would be perfect for playing a role in the movie.The story.... in one of the blurbs was stated that the person could hardly put the book down to eat something. It took me three days to get to this point with this book. My conclusion is more that once you can manage to read 150 pages in one go you FINALLY get a grip on the story. If you do not have that amount of time the story does not make sense. Every time I picked up the book and started reading I had to get into the story again. Sometimes even when I went from one to another chapter. The subject would change so much that I would loose track. One moment you are reading about an exciting game the other about a guy and his thesis even though in your mind that game never properly ended. And it really took me a stint of over 3 hours to finally get a grip on that style. Is the book really THAT bad, no that is the other thing. The book is not that bad. Actually the story is good, it is a story about hopes and dreams and what it can do to a person when these cannot come true. The author managed to put just enough emotion and feeling in the book that one actually wants to know what happens to all these characters. Therefore I end up giving it tree stars, it is not bad enough for 2 stars but it is not getting on my recommendation list either.