Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

The faculty and students at Westish College (a small school on the Wisconsin edge of Lake Michigan) are all earnest and endearing. But problems arise because some of them tend to put all their eggs in one basket.  Henry, a slick-fielding shortstop, is attending Westish solely to play for its baseball team. But he loses his ability to throw the ball accurately just as major league scouts start to show an interest in him. Schwartz, the erudite but rough-around-the-edges catcher, has applied to only a few of the top law schools in the country and been rejected by all. Pella, the school President’s daughter, had quit high school to elope with an older man. Now, four years later, she flees the stifling relationship, returning to her father’s home without education or skills. And the school president himself feels compelled to put his long academic career and reputation at risk to pursue an illicit love affair. These decisions lead to a long unhappy baseball season for all, straining the love and friendship they feel for one another. But a summer of emotional and physical pain teaches them that part of The Art of Fielding requires reacting to a bad hop. Life goes on in unexpected ways.