by Chad Harbach (4th Estate) ISBN: 97800007418695
Henry Skrimshander has the potential to be a ‘Jonty Rhodes’ of fielding in American baseball.
Plucked from obscurity in South Dakota by Mike Schwartz, a Westish College player, Henry is thrown into a privileged world. He is a gifted fielder. He has prescience. He knows where the ball will land before it hits the bat.
Schwartz tries harder than anybody but knows he isn’t special. Not in the way Henry is. He mentors and coaches the player who may be able to keep his dream alive.
Guert Affenlight, the college president, falls in love with Henry’s roommate, Owen. Pella, Guert’s daughter, falls in love with Mike. And Henry, after one misthrow where he accidentally hurts Owen, loses his magic.
The Art Of Fielding is well-written, the characters are interesting enough. However, it is a mediocre story without any magic. I will forget the story by tomorrow and I will not remember the characters’ names next week. I don’t understand the fuss and fanfare surrounding this book. The many literary references and themes may have tricked academics into praising an ordinary book.