Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Matt Christopher > Chad Harbach
People used to expect literary novels to deepen the experience of living; now they are happy with any sustained display of writerly cleverness. But The Art of Fielding falls short of this new standard too. Not much distinguishes it from young-adult fiction, a genre in which explicit gay romance is no longer out of the ordinary, except for the frequency of wannabe-erudite allusions: “April is the cruelest month,” “You’re only Jung once,” and so on. (Most of these references would once have been considered high-school level; the worldly cousin on The Patty Duke Show talked like this.) Let no one claim that the characters develop in any profound way….
Back to the baseball. I found the games in the novel unpredictable yet easy to follow; Harbach deserves credit for the ingenuity with which he defies so many sports-movie clichés. But the more we learn about the talented shortstop at the center of these sections, the duller he becomes. Perhaps he was meant to hold our interest as a kind of Kaspar Hauser, but if so, there isn’t enough contrast between him and his surroundings. At Westish College, he fits in all too well. Hearing an impassioned (and very contrived) exchange of groans and shouts emanate from the weight room, he leans against the door to eavesdrop, then falls inside when it opens, whereupon—
Enough; writing too much about a novel this slight is as unfair as writing too little….
for his generous support.
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