The Art Of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Mike’s review

So excited for this to be a Rays/A’s market inefficiency of college ball tale then immediately crushed because I know it’ll end up being about people, not baseball.


Plot summary: A shortstop is remarkably good and then is not. This has consequences on him, his teammates and the rest of the small Wisconsin liberal arts school.


Strange to fantasize about winning defensively in the bottom of the 9th game 7 World Series. But awesome. God, I wish I’d been good.


“Before he’d arrived, life at Westish [College] had seemed heroic and grand, grave and essential, like Mike Schwartz. It was turning out to be comic and idle, familiar and flawed–more like Henry Skrimshander.” Better than I’ve ever said it.


“Schwartz knew that people loved to suffer, as long as the suffering made sense.”


Considering Harbach’s clear love of the game, he does a good job capturing Pella’s disinterest (I think…hard to say what a weirdo-non-lover of baseball feels).


“What kind of weird pride was that, that let you sit around someone else’s house all day long, doing nothing, but kept you from wanting to be caught watching TV?” Been there, but it’s not pride; it’s shame/embarrassment that makes me turn off TV when I hear key in lock.


“[…] as the summers spoiled and the coasts flooded and the monocrops failed and the powers that be squabbled and panicked […] northeastern Wisconsin would probably not be the worst place to be.” So sure of Oakland after last Wisconsin visit, but this sentence gives me great longing/future homesickness.


I have a list of wistful regrets and this book recalls the one wherein I didn’t have the courage to attend UW-Stevens Point because I knew no one there, even though it had all sorts of environmental programs and punk shows. (It’s cleansing to write one true sentence.)


“It was no worse than anyplace else, and it was theirs.”


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