The Art of Fielding By Chad Harbach

(Little, Brown and Company)

“The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author,” wrote literary theorist Roland Barthes---so while The Art of Fielding’s hype has focused on its author’s exorbitant $650,000 advance, let Chad Harbach be dead for our purposes. After all, Faulkner’s loudness and anger when drunk doesn’t affect my reading of The Sound and the Fury, so why care about a publisher’s pocketbook here? Instead, let me celebrate some of the prettiest, most vivid prose about baseball and colleges since Roger Angell, and cherish his Franzenian ability to make the reader understand something essential about themselves through some fairly unlikeable characters; let me also lambast the predictable plot, the forced, flaunting references to Herman Melville, and the too-neat ending. Fortunately, though, Harbach lives---I look forward to his next novel.

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