Reading guide for The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Art of Fielding

A Novel

by Chad Harbach

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach X
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Sep 2011, 528 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2012, 544 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

  1. Does male friendship always involve competition? In what ways? Can men ever be just friends? Are their relationships more competitive than those between women?


  2. After a long streak of errorless games, why does Henry lose his once-effortless throw? What has changed in Henry? Do you think this sort of crisis is unique to athletics? Could, say, a painter go through a similar crisis?


  3. Harbach never writes from Owen's point of view. In what ways did this affect your understanding of Owen's character? Of his feelings toward Guert? Is their relationship one-sided, or perfectly reciprocal?


  4. Mike devotes much of his time and energy to mentoring and helping Henry. Does he give Henry too much of his time and energy? Can someone give too much?


  5. After hitting Owen and losing his accuracy, Henry immerses himself in grueling physical activity: running the stadium steps, racing Starblind, doing endless chin-ups, swimming in the lake. Why does he do this? Is his body to blame for his throwing problems? Discuss the relationship between the body and the mind in The Art of Fielding.


  6. Are Pella and Henry in love? What brings them together? Why do they stay together?


  7. Guert is decades older than Mike, Henry, Owen, and Pella, but in what ways is he similar to the students, despite his age?


  8. "Monomania" - the obsessive pursuit of a single thing - is one of the major themes of Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Is it also a major theme of The Art of Fielding? If so, for which characters, and in what ways?


  9. The athletes talk about sacrificing their bodies to get better, and the "sacrifice bunt" is a baseball term that comes up frequently. Is Henry sacrificing himself when he stops eating? Why? Is his last at bat a sacrifice?


  10. Are Mike, Henry, and Pella all striving for perfection? Is perfection possible? Is it worth striving for, even if it's impossible? Why or why not? Do their desires evolve over the course of the novel? In what ways?


  11. When Affenlight is confronted about his relationship with Owen, he thinks: "What kind of conversation would they be having if Owen were a girl? Bruce would be using the same legalese, the expression on his face would still be stern, but he'd be pouring himself a scotch. The gleam in his eye would say, Good for you, Guert. Still got it, eh?" Do you think this is true? Would you have seen Guert differently?


  12. Why does Pella exhume her father's body and bury it in the lake?


  13. In Aparicio Rodriguez's The Art of Fielding, he writes: "There are three stages: Thoughtless being. Thought. Return to thoughtless being." He adds: "Thoughtless being is attained by everyone, the return to thoughtless being by a very few." What do you think this means? How does it relate to Chad Harbach's book?


  14. It has been said that baseball is a metaphor for life. Do you agree? Why or why not?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Back Bay Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Baseball: An Early History

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...
  • Book Jacket
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Collection
    The Last Collection
    by Jeanne Mackin
    What it's about:
    The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin follows the lives of two internationally ...
  • Book Jacket: Mrs. Everything
    Mrs. Everything
    by Jennifer Weiner
    Mrs. Everything spans six decades of an American family. We meet the Kaufman sisters Josette 'Jo' ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.