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May 18, 2012 / Leslie

Review – Audiobook: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Art of Fielding by Chad HarbachThe Art of Fielding
by Chad Harbach
Narrated by Holter Graham

Genre: Fiction, Baseball
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publish Date: December 6, 2011
Format: Audio, 16 hours
Audio Listening Level: Intermediate
Rating: 4½ of 5

At Westish College, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league until a routine throw goes disastrously off course. In the aftermath of his error, the fates of five people are upended. Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life. As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets.

I usually write my own summary but I was having trouble with a concise description so I gave up and used the synopsis, above, from the publisher.

While the backdrop of the novel is baseball, and the title says baseball, there is a lot more going on than just sports; call it a literary sports novel. The plot is driven by five well-developed, engaging but ultimately flawed characters. It’s the individuals and their relationships with one another that will grab your interest and keep you reading/listening hour after hour.

Henry wants the American dream, to be a big league baseball player. He is ambitious, devoted to practicing hour after hour, long after everyone else’s day is finished. But when a single throw goes wrong, and a player is injured, Henry begins to doubt himself and his confidence is shattered. Mike Schwartz has subconsciously sabotaged his own career; he’s applying to law schools he won’t be admitted to, has succumbed to an addiction to pain pills and now faces an uncertain future. Meanwhile Owen and Guert have begun a dangerous liaison and are toying with disaster, and Pella needs to tie up some loose ends, put the past behind her and start fresh.

In the end a few things wrapped up a little too conveniently but I can overlook that because the rest of the novel was so good; and the very end was quite satisfying. Holter Graham’s narration was superb, a joy to listen to. I flew through the audio in only a few days never growing tired of his voice.

For me, as a baseball fan, it was obvious that the author knows the game, which only enhanced my enjoyment. But even if you know nothing about the game, I recommend giving this one a try. It’s that good.

Source: Borrowed from the library
© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. sagustocox / May 18 2012 6:50 am

    Everyone has been raving about this one.


  2. BermudaOnion / May 18 2012 10:27 am

    I really need to get to this book. I might be able to get to it quicker if I grabbed the audio.


    • Leslie / May 18 2012 10:33 am

      It’s one of the better audio productions I’ve listened to. Sixteen hours of listening flew by.


  3. Lucy / May 18 2012 1:22 pm

    This does sound so good and perfect fit for summer listening. I know a bit about baseball, so I’m intrigued. Sounds like an awesome narrator too!


  4. litendeavors / May 18 2012 2:51 pm

    Hm….I’ve been avoiding this title because I’m not much of a sport’s fan, but this does seem like something I could get into. Thanks for the review!


  5. Suko / May 18 2012 3:18 pm

    Terrific review! I can tell this audio book was a “hit” with you (sorry, I’m making bad puns today).


  6. nomadreader / May 21 2012 2:51 pm

    I enjoyed this one too, but I shared your assessment of the ending. There was one storyline in particular I didn’t quite buy; it seemed inauthentic compared to the rest. I don’t listen to audio very often (if at all), but I bet this story would work quite well in that format. I’m glad you enjoyed this one!


  7. Donna / May 21 2012 10:15 pm

    I really liked this book. I’m often flummoxed when asked to recommend a good “summer read” but I think this is it. Glad you liked it too.


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