Just finished reading “The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach and I believe quite strongly that this is a new American classic, in line with “The Great Gatsby” , “A Seperate Peace” and “Catcher in the Rye”. I am curious as to how many people agree with me. This is a debut novel from this author and I am anxious to see what he comes up with next! This novel’s publication was the result of some rejection at first, then an intense bidding war, as facinatingly portrayed in “Vanity Fair” magazine last spring. It is now out in paperback and I’m hoping to see a lot of copues being read on the beach this summer, I couldn’t put it down! The general gist of the novel is the story of a young man, Henry Skrimshander, with amazing shortstop skills, plucked from obscurity and given a berth on the perennial losing baseball team of small Westish College, on the shores of Lake Michigan. His unofficial ‘coach’ is Mike Schwartz, the young classmate at Westish, who saw him play and was the first to recognize his incredible talent.
The president of the college is Guert Affenlight, who has fallen unexpectedly in love with an inappropriate person, his daughter, who dropped out of Yale and ran off to California to get married to an older professor has now run from the husband and back to Westish to figure out what to do next, then there’s Owen Dunne, a member of the baseball tema and friend to all, who is accepted into the fold, despite his being openly gay. These characters (and others) interact with each other and therefore change the course of each of their lives. It’s a coming of age story that reflects the seemingly small incidents that can put us on a path that we are surprised to find ourselves on.