Friday, 27 January 2017

The Art of Fielding - Chad Harbach


I am a UK blogger.  So here we don't have baseball....we have the old fashioned and much more gentle game called "rounders".  Here we don't award college scholarships just on the strength of a young sportsperson spotted who might do well for the college.  (I don't think, so, anyway).  And then, along comes a book a book about an American college and baseball.  Hey!  don't turn away.... I am not interested in baseball, either.    But the book, the book, oh! It was a wonderful example of what you might call "the human condition". How people's lives cross paths, and what effect they may have on each other.

Henry gets to have a place at a small mid-West college because he can play baseball well.

Schwartz was the guy who spotted him and who got him the place at college.  But Schwartz is in his last year at that college, wants to go to law school, and has so worn out  his body that at the very least he is going to need new knees very shortly.  Oh! and he has fallen in love with Pella.

Pella is President Affenlight's daughter, newly returned home to Dad after running out of a four year marriage to a manipulator who she had eloped with.

And of course the President of the college, Affenlight, must be seen to be above reproach in all ways, which is fine until he falls for a student.

The student?  Well - I won't give the game away except to say that a stray baseball which hurts the student sets of a chain of events that are seemingly unstoppable.

All of these lives will become entwined.  All of these people will have an effect on at least one of the others.  All of them have problems and right until the very end of the book I was not sure if all those problems would be resolved.  It highlights life in general and the problems that some people have (bad marriages;  addiction to drugs of any kind;  coping with homosexuality; feelings of low self esteem) in particular.    I liked it so much that I kept stopping after a couple of chapters to think about everyone, and to slow down the predictable feeling I knew I would feel when I got to the end which was a real "sorry that I finished it" kind of feeling.  That hasn't happened to me since I read The Book Thief.

PS - as a non-sporty type of person, I just skimmed the baseball stuff!  But if you are a tiny bit interested, Wikipedia will have some info on baseball rules.