The Art of Fielding

It’s been a long time since a novel captivated me as much as The Art of Fielding. I know very little about baseball and thought I cared even less. Harbach made me love each character, one by one, and crafted a great story about them. The characters (college baseball players, the school president, and his daughter) were compelling, the setting (a small, private college on the shore of Lake Michigan) stark and interesting, and the story simple (primarily about relationships and the forces that drive people), but elegant. The story begins with gifted short stop Henry Skrimshander and his error-free streak. When Henry’s record-tying streak is broken by an errant throw, the book shows how it impacts the other characters’ lives. The book is beautifully written and contains tons of literary references especially to Melville, the college President’s favorite author, after which the baseball team, the Harpooners, is named. I had been listening to it in the car on CD, but about 2/3 of the way through, I couldn’t wait any longer to learn what happened to Guert Affenlight, Owen Dunne, Henry Skrimshander, Mike Schwartz, Pella Affenlight and the others. I got the hardback from the library and finished it in one sitting. P.S. After I finished the hardback, I continued listening to the audiobook in my car. I just wasn’t ready to let go of the characters.