I don’t read much fiction. I’ve always liked true stories better, so novels, other than classics I read in school, aren’t something I’ve spent a lot of time on in my free time reading.
But after hearing for months, from various sources I trust, how great Chad Harbach’s “The Art of Fielding” was, I finally decided to check it out.
The New York Times bestseller, about a small-college shortstop and major league prospect who suddenly develops an inability to throw the ball straight, is as good as I’d heard.
Truly, this is one terrific, although a bit wacky, debut novel. Henry Skrimshander, the main character, is cruising toward a possible big-league future when one errant throw sets him on a devastating course of Steve Blass disease, named for the Pirates pitcher who one day suddenly couldn’t find home plate.
The other major characters of the book include Mike Schwartz, Henry’s mentor and a fellow Westish College player, Owen Dunne, Henry’s gay roommate, Guert Affenlight, the President of the school, and Pella, Guert’s wayward 23-year-old daughter.
I don’t want to give away too much, except to say: This is definitely NOT a baseball book, though there’s lots of baseball stuff in it (which Harbach gets extremely accurately).
Also, the plot twists in the last 100 pages are worthy of a prime-time soap opera. Twice I audibly yelled “No way” to no one in particular.
The writing can be a bit overwrought at times, but each main character is so well-drawn, and the plot so gripping, that you find yourself turning the pages really quickly.
I’ve read HBO is making the book into a movie, which doesn’t surprise me at all.
But I definitely recommend reading this excellent book now; what else have you got to do at the beach?
**And now, because there’s never a bad time to watch a squirrel dance… a Monday pick-me-up for you.
**Finally, a few thoughts on the tragedy in Colorado Thursday night, while still trying to digest why poor Aurora, Colo. has had to suffer two horrific incidents of gun violence in the past 13 years (Columbine is a mere 20 miles away from Aurora).
– It’s an absolute tragedy that so many innocents were killed. But can someone explain to me what the hell a 6-year-old, and a three-month-old, are doing at the movies at midnight on a Thursday? Are these the worst parents in America, or what?
– As always, there are those Second Amendment folks who have uttered the ludicrous argument that “if people in the theater had guns, someone could’ve taken out the assassin before he did what he did.” This is crazy on so many levels: First, the entire attack lasted mere seconds. You’re going to tell me someone in the theater was going to get to James Holmes before he did the damage he did? And who’s to say the guy packing heat in aisle 9 isn’t going to hit innocent people while he tried to take out the madman?
– Finally, the gun laws of Colorado are about as lax as you can get. Here are a few:
People in Colorado are allowed to carry firearms in a vehicle. Buying a concealed weapons permit is as easy as spending $150 and filling out a form.
There is no ban on assault weapons, no registration required, no background checks for online gun sales.
And, my favorite, no limit on the amount of handguns you can buy in one purchase.
Second Amendment, my butt. God forbid a politician ever stand up to the gun lobby and try to enforce real laws.