“Very Brady Udall, in all the good ways. Masterfully written. And no, you don't have to like baseball to like this book.”Amy Q wrote this review Tuesday, January 3, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
I don’t read a lot of fiction, but the combination of this book being so highly regarded and at least peripherally about baseball was enough to get me to read it, relatively shortly after it was released. I enjoyed this book, although I’m enough out of touch with reading literature that I think I probably didn’t get as much out of it as I could have in a classroom setting. Certainly, it is very well written, not overly flowery like a lot of fiction, and literarily rich but never bogged down by language or sentence structure.
The story is woven very well, and I especially liked the degree of attention paid to men’s relationships with each other, which are often given short shrift in novels, movies, and television. The mentor-mentee relationship between Schwartz and Henry is explored in particular detail, and I thought the book did a good job of addressing the tensions that emerge when the mentee no longer has the same mentoring needs.
The author is clearly a serious baseball fan, and he uses the obscurity of baseball rules to much literary success in several instances, not least when Henry’s ninth-inning error is erased, as the game stops to take Owen to the hospital (and so the game’s official ending is the prior, completed inning). The book manages to highlight how unforgiving sports can be but also the opportunity for redemption they offer, if this redemption comes a little too soon relative to what would be most realistic. Too, his writing about how an athlete feels when his career is over I found very well put, in the context of athletes I’ve known and also how I felt when one particularly challenging and demanding job ended.
The book is very postmodern, but has a few funny tongue-in-cheek moments (or at least, they seemed tongue-in-cheek to me), such as: referring to it as “freshperson year”; the high cost, relative to their benefits, of solar panels; mocking the sports macho culture by having Owen announce that he is gay on his first day on the team, and yelling “I exhort you”; and the resume-driven college student who is writing a paper on Hamlet while volunteering at a soup kitchen while dating the football captain, etc.
Recommended first to those looking for recent, serious novels, and second to baseball fans; the book certainly is more of the former than the latter. A thoroughly enjoyable read. ”
“I liked and didn't like this book. It had a lot of promise in the beginning and I really liked the story of the baseball player. But by the end I found myself wondering who would like the book. Baseball fans would be turned off by it I think. I found the homosexual relationship rather unbelievable. The age difference was just too great. It had great possiblilites, but utimately I don't think it lived up to the hype.”noreen s wrote this review Monday, January 2, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Don't know what all the fuss was about - it was sold out at B&N in Hyannis. It was a good story, but not the best of 2011. I liked it but way over-hyped. I like baseball and I liked the college caf but when did they ever study to know all those literary references? ”Amy H wrote this review Monday, January 2, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Very well written but very wordy. Would appeal more to someone who knows more about baseball. Very emotional human interest story.”Terry D wrote this review Sunday, January 1, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Loved this book - well written but a quick read. Became quickly invested and engrossed in the characters, wondering how the story would unfold. Would definitely recommend. ”Jane L wrote this review Friday, December 30, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A beautiful, poignant first novel about baseball and the intimacies of male friendship. A re-casting of Moby Dick's crew within a baseball team. The usual heartbreaking transition of perfect unconscious athletic perfection to self-conscious questioning. What makes this a remarkable first novel isn't so much that it is the best thing ever written, but because there are so many small turns of phrases and decisions of character that are just truly excellent. Harbach has a lot of talent and I'm excited to read his further work. ”Kathryn W wrote this review Friday, December 30, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Loved. Favorite book of 2011. I am serious baseball fan so was very drawn to this. Beautifully written and I loved all 5 characters. Did not want it to end. Great baseball is metaphor for life. Wish I had more Moby Dick , Melville background to understand all those connections”Jennifer B wrote this review Wednesday, December 28, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“have not read yet on my list”email@example.com wrote this review Sunday, December 25, 2011. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Really enjoyed this book. Uber well written, baseball book. Features stud shortstop named Henry AND set around area where I live. Even without any of, it is a great book.
Only complaint, the whole romance with the college President. Best book in recent memory since Cloud Atlas”