Book number 17: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
What it is: Some books leave me a smile, then there are those that burn a permanent mark in my otherwise blotchy head. Such is The Art of Fielding and similar to Looking for Alaska and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, it came at the perfect time in my life, a most painful time.
The book is about that – pain, suffering, but also growth and coming to terms with life. There were five characters, each dealing with that concept in beautiful and agonizing ways, and while baseball is an important vehicle in the story, thinking the story is about the sport is the biggest mistake you can ever make.
What I liked about it: Rich, deep, honest, and insightful, The Art of Fielding takes you on a journey to self-discovery and self-acceptance. It is filled with struggle but also triumph. I don’t know how it happened but it seemed all possible emotions went into the pot that made this book as tasty as it is. It is one big moving affair but not in a cheesy way. I appreciate that.
The narration flows smoothly and the characters felt real. Think of this like eating your favorite chocolate cake, where layer after layer, it is just all deliciousness. If I have to make a list of books I’d want to be buried with me, The Art of Fielding makes it.
The most important part of it, that truly hit home was this bit:
Most people don’t get this and that, that is tragic. “Sometimes you needed a rupture; sometimes you had to clean house.” I totally agree with that. It’s not easy or comfortable but it is crucial.
Some more of my favorite quotes and lines from The Art of Fielding:
1. “One moves not against the ball but with it.”
2. “Everyday is a war… The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”
3. “This was why you didn’t ask why. Why could only mess you up.”
4. “See what’s inside, react, get back to work.”
5. “And if you can’t control it, it’s not worth your time. You can only control how hard you work today.”
6. “Cold is a state of mind.”
7. “People loved to suffer, as long as the suffering made sense. Everybody suffered. They key was to choose the form of your suffering.
8. “The name of the game is failure, and if you can’t handle failure you won’t last long.”
9. “You really only notice when you screw up.”
10. “The pain is like a gas. It expands to fill up whatever space you give it.”
11. “Empty yourself.”
12. “Things are simpler than they seem.”
13. “He didn’t have excuses. What he had were options.”
14. “You can always do one more.”
15. “You always lived in your head and had to go with what you felt.
16. “Sometimes harder is easier.”
17. “But what did it mean if your deepest hope, the premise on which you’d based your whole life, sounded crazy as soon as you put it in words? It meant you were crazy.”
18. “He can’t stay but he can’t leave, not without a destination.”
19. “But people didn’t forgive you for doing what felt right – that was the last thing they forgave you for.”
20. “But what broke over him now was all that pain in its purest state, pain that meant nothing, could not be redeemed, because it all led only here, and here was nowhere.”
21. “When you give something up, who or what did you give it up to?”
22. “Talking was like throwing a baseball. You couldn’t plan it out beforehand. You just had to let go and see what happened. You had to throw out words without knowing whether anyone would catch them – you had to throw out words you knew no one would catch. You had to send your words out where they weren’t yours anymore.
23. “There were no whys in a person’s life, and very few hows.
and a life line I’ve adopted, one that sits next to “I go to seek a Great Perhaps” from Looking for Alaska:
“You’ll win in the end, because you’ll refuse to lose.”
What I didn’t like about it: I don’t like it when a character dies and it makes me feel like it’s an escape, as if there is nothing else that can be done to work the story out.
Recommended for: If you want a good read, this is a good pick. It’s a man-lit of some form though it has a lot of feels. Also if you like baseball, obviously, you have to read The Art of Fielding. I loved it.
Note: The first project for this year is to finish the book reviews I’ve been procrastinating on since forever. Sorry.