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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

To read about movies and TV shows I'm watching, visit my other blog: Elliot's Watching

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Diamonds are forever: The ending of The Art of Fielding

Well, yes, Chad Harach's "The Art of Fielding" does conclude on the diamond, as it should, though - as I expected and hoped - not in a Chip Hilton heroic magical ending but with a touch of sadness and missed opportunities. It's truly a coming of age novel, particularly in regard to the main and by far the most interesting character, Henry - the shortstop who loses his ability to throw. We never actually do learn why that happened - a psychologist whom he's seeing toward the end offers some pat explanation about an oedipal conflict with the older player, Schwartz - but it almost feels as if an editor made Harbach splice that explainer into the text. The national championship baseball game strains credibility in a number of ways: a player would take a phone call during the game? He would share some bad news he heard with another player? A player would deliberately put his face in the way of a fastball? And they'd let him stay in the game afterwards? - but the game does move the story toward its real two-part conclusion: the burial at sea of Affenlight (a scene coyly reminiscent of Four Weddings & a Funeral) and Schwartz hitting grounders to Henry, very nice last scene. M and I agree that we never warmed up or got to the character of Affenlight (or his daughter, Pella, for that matter) - I find it troubling that Harbach at least seems to want us to feel sympathy for Affenlight - he's meant to be, I think, a grand failure, something like the father figure in the excellent novel Gorgeous Lies - but in fact it's absolutely impossible to believe he would be so reckless and in fact unethical in having a relationship with a student, male or female. From the outside, he looks like either a predator or a fool - but from the inside of the novel, he's meant to be heroic. To me, this turns out to be a very readable and smart novel though I wish it were focused on the players rather than the adults.

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  1. I'm sorry to say that you are, if not stupid, ignorant and presumptuous at the very least. The internet is not a forum for amateur critics. I played division-I college baseball, and the idiosyncracies and team culture are remarkably accurate.

    Real journalism and even real criticism acquire factual bases for their assertions. You, sir, are too lazy to have a voice. I'm sorry I wasted time reading your review.

  2. That was a nasty and stupid comment to a perfectly thoughtful capsule review.

  3. Thank you, Anonymous 2, you're kind. - elliot