In a short blurb? We talk books.
I took my sweet time reading Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding… (I know you all must have tired of this book’s constant presence on our sidebar). It turns out, it was just enough time to make me feel like all the characters were good old friends of mine, but not too much time that I bored of it and had to trudge through the end. All in all, it was a great reading experience. The Art of Fielding was Harbach’s fiction debut, but the general consensus seems to be that he hit the ball out of the park (cliche and pun intended).
I am not surprised — I was immediately impressed by this author’s borderline poetic metaphors and descriptions, and though he writes the entire book in third person, he manages to reflect each character’s personality when he focuses on them, taking full advantage of the idiosyncrasies he builds into the characters to create an interestingly dynamic narrative voice.
In short, to steal the words of his beautiful, gay, high brow, environmentally conscious, literature literate (sounds like a prick, I know, but you somehow end up loving him) character Owen… Chad Harbach… You are skilled. I exhort you.
The reason I took my sweet time reading The Art of Fielding is because not a whole lot happened in the book. This is no Hunger Games where every five pages some new twist or danger awaits. Instead it is a front row seat to get comfortable in while you watch four extremely relatable main characters build and destroy their lives at a small liberal arts college along Lake Michigan. It’s the complete picturesque opposite of my experience at Rutgers University (where were our lush green lawns where you can discover your true meaning; huge, gorgeous, extremely intelligent jocks; and presidents who discovered their homosexuality by falling in love with male students?), and yet somehow I found that these characters were eerily just like me… or more accurately, the people I either was or still am secretly terrified I will eventually turn into). The person who runs away from conventionality but eventually finds herself overwhelmingly alone in her rebellion? That was where I was headed in high school. The person who doesn’t realize until old age that they weren’t living up to their full life potential? Of course I’m afraid of that. The college student who tries so hard for one singular goal and it doesn’t come into fruition? That was the overarching fear of my last semester of senior year. And of course, the kid who was so talented until one day wakes up and finds that he isn’t? Well that is the theme of my nightmares these days…
To sum it up, Chad Harbach has a way of getting his characters into your heart and lodging them in there, so that you’ll wake up in the morning thinking… I wonder what’s going on with the Skrimmer today... and … I hope Pella’s feeling better. This pathos combined with refreshing rhetorical skills made for a very enjoyable read.
I rarely buy books for friends and family, as it’s hard to know others’ book tastes, but I’ve already ordered two additional copies to give away during the holiday season and I’m debating a couple more. I think what impressed me most about this book was when I realized that I’ve suddenly become very interested in baseball… when just a couple of months ago, if you asked me if I liked baseball, I would scrunch up my nose and say that I find most sports boring, but baseball the absolute most boring of them all. Powerful book, this Art of Fielding.
Happy Reading (and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!)