The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jaime, Michele, and I started a virtual book club, and Michele picked this for our first book in April. [Lot's of spoilers below.]
Here's what I liked: he tried to write a book about male platonic love. Not friendship, but love. He contrasted it to male romantic love, though he didn't necessarily do a great job with that, maybe because it was unclear if one of the gay characters was actually gay, and their was no part of the book from the perspective of the actually gay character. The least compelling relationship was the heterosexual romantic love which seemed opportunistic at best.
I also liked how he layered Moby Dick, and the fictional book that President Affenlight wrote about Moby Dick, and the fictional book called The Art of Fielding. Male platonic love, obsession, and introspective panic are all layered on top of each other.
Harry is infinitely more interesting after he starts freaking out. The line about how he expected life to improve little by little, but that that was not reality could have been my own diagnosis, and has stayed with me.
I also like Pella eating her earrings, because why not?
Here's what I didn't like. There's some problem with the pacing of this book, it goes very very slowly for the first 60% or so of the book, and then it moves quickly and somewhat unbelievably towards the end. My biggest problem with the plot is that Schwartz forgives both Harry and Pella. In real life, I think he could forgive one of them, either one, depending on how passionately he felt for one or the other, but not both.
The ending also felt like forced drama. Otherwise, no one is forgiven, nothing in particular happens, and everything just ends. But the baseball ending was forced drama enough- the rowboat scene is just too much. Oh look at us! Our friendship is so deep that we can rely on each other to grave rob! Sure.
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