I’ve been re-reading The Art of Fielding this weekend, which is probably my favourite novel released in the past 5 years. I tend to read to coincide with the start of the MLB season for obvious reasons, but missed it slightly this year because in the move my original copy went missing. I re-ordered it from Amazon and of course found the original in a box later that day…
I got through about a hundred pages on Saturday and then just six in the same time on Sunday, something to do with copious amounts of alcohol.
While about baseball on the surface level, and I really wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who’s completely unfamiliar with baseball lexicon, the book transcends the limitations of the sport novel through numerous Moby Dick references both on a textual (Melville gave a lecture at the fictional college the plot takes place at, the sports teams are called the harpooners, the lead characters last name is Skrimshander) and a sub textual level (lifelong obsessions, depression, achieving perfection).
As well as all of this there’s a good dose of teenagers with dead parents which, when handled well, is a topic I’m always well up for, given my own life experience and the defining role that played in my teenage years (and n0w).
And of course, the baseball team has a league of some sort to win, and they have to train hard, believe in themselves and pull together to win it! (Spoilers: they do).
Early in the book there are some clunky references to iPhones and Facebook which will date the book quite easily in the future, but these grow less frequent as the plots and the characters get mixed up in each other’s lives.
Two phrases have really stuck with me so far from this reading, both straight from Melville (I think The Book is next on my to be read list):
Three weeks have scarcely passed, at any time between then and now, that I have not unfolded within myself.
Which gives us the title of this post, as unfolding within myself seems like something I’d really quite like to do at the minute. And:
No suicides permitted here; and no smoking in the parlor.
Which is just so gloriously dark and ironic. In the novel Guert has a custom piece of art work made with this line on it, and after Google proved unable to provide me with a real poster with this line on i
t, I think I’m going to get one made for my room to replace the Russ Meyer “Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” poster because while it is ace, it’s also a bit gross.