I’m a quarter of the way into a book that I can’t stop reading. This is the kind of reading experience that makes me want to cancel social engagements and let the laundry pile up and skip meals so I can stay with it. And anyone who knows me knows that I don’t skip meals. Ever.
The book is The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I read the Vanity Fair article about the story behind the story—the decade-plus of writing, the rejections, the editors-as-gatekeepers, the sudden, meteoric success—and I was compelled to buy the book for the writer’s sake alone. It sat on my nightstand for months, however, shunted to the bottom of a sky-scraping pile. But I started it two nights ago, and it’s taken up an intractable residence in my mind.
Though on the surface it’s a story of a baseball player, there’s very little in it about the game itself. It’s actually a dense-but-sprawling story of the fates of five people who are affected when the shortstop protagonist throws a ball wildly off course the day he tied his hero’s NCAA record for number of error-free games. With careful insight and controlled prose, Harbach shines the stadium lights on the characters’ inner turmoil and moments of grace. As curious as I am to see where it goes, I’m not eager to be finished.
Can somebody slip a pizza beneath my office door?