A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Being a big baseball fan, I also enjoy a good baseball novel every now and then, such as The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. It tells the story of Henry Skrimshander, a college shortstop who loses his confidence right at the point that he ties a national record for the most games without an error, a record held by his idol, former St. Louis Cardinal Aparicio Rodriguez. The Art of Fielding is the title of Aparicio’s collection of quotes about the philosophy of playing shortstop, a zen-like book that Henry reads constantly.
Henry’s breakdown comes at terrible time for the surging Westish College Harpooners and four other characters on the campus by the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. Subplots involving the president of the college, his daughter, the Harpooners’ catcher, and Henry’s gay roommate divert readers from the shortstop’s struggles for chapters at a time.
Baseball is only one of the elements of the unpredictable story. Literary readers will enjoy the discussions of architecture, philosophy, drug use by athletes, and environmentalism. The writings of Emerson, Thoreau, and Melville are quoted alongside the words of Aparicio Rodriguez. Like many others who have read The Art of Fielding, I was greatly entertained.
Review by Rick