The Art of Fielding

Chad Harbach

The Art of Fielding (“Fielding”), by Chad Harbach, is a novel built around a college baseball team and the faculty of the college, but, in reality, it is a thinly veiled promotion of homosexuality.  Despite this, it has virtues: The author’s command of English is admirable; his metaphors and epithets are superb, endless and entertaining; these, by themselves, make the novel a good read.  His putative baseball theme is well conceived and makes a fascinating story.  It’s difficult to put down.

There the good news ends. It is marred, and surely destroyed for many, however by the tedium of selling homosexuality.  The author’s choice of baseball and “fielding” as of a baseball was a patent afterthought, a method of putting a double entendre into the rubric of his novel.  The author would have us alternately "field" baseballs or those of our own gender.   The author is either a patent homosexual or a mind-reader, as no heterosexual male could understand the thought processes of homosexuals sufficiently to pen the intimate thought processes of the curious minds that enjoy the disgusting and deadly bacterial contaminants of anal sex while ignoring the frightening medical risks attendant thereto.  The “lead” gay is further compromised by having a black mother, adding more social spice and “currency” to his tale.

Consider these random snippets:  The ultimate homosexual is “whole and serene…or never farther away than one well-rolled joint from whole…”  "Serenity", to the author, then vacillates between the anus and Marijuana. Then he gives his homosexual’s perspective of a heterosexual male: “A supremely heterosexual male is indifferent to or disdainful of or afraid of other men but also supremely attuned to women’s needs and interests.”  Really?  Can a homosexual author understand a heterosexual’s mind any more than the latter can understand the former?  To edify the author, the simple explanation here is that heterosexuals don’t find males sexually attractive.   Sorry, Mr. Harbach, but the vast plurality of males just don’t find guys “sexy” – especially their pernicious fecal deposits or acidic urine!

The author is not satisfied to delve into the foregoing issues; he improbably compounds them by having a 20-year-old “ravishingly handsome” lead-gay, Owen, be smitten by the 60-year-old college President, Guert -- reminiscent of the Nobel Prize-winning Marquez in his ludicrous novel, “Love in the Time of Cholera”, wherein a teenage lass falls head over heels for a sixties-Senior Male.  In “Fielding”, the teenage and Senior Citizen gays are portrayed as intellectual giants, warm, kind, etc., of course, and the lead-female (the heterosexual-Pella, the daughter of Guert), while bright, is depicted as foul-mouthed, crude, egoistic, egotistic, recklessly promiscuous and thoroughly unlikeable -- as most women seem to be derisively perceived by so many gays – but, implausibly, she is completely accepting of her father’s late-blooming homosexuality and even goes so far as to suggest to her ex-boyfriend, Mike, that he could help his mentally depressed roommate, the star shortstop, Henry, by making love to him as she, Pella, had done.  "Love" to Harbach is all about switching partners, sexes, colors, while inhaling pot; sheep and donkeys are likely next on his free-formed agenda.  In other words, straight girls (of course) accept and encourage homosexuality.  Really?  Indeed, being gay is cool, all-around, if one can ignore the lethal diseases that spring from intimate contact with bodily excrements.

Regardless, the level of the author’s erudition is commendable, as all of his lead characters reference and quote interestingly from the classics; but it strains credulity that so many of them know so many of the same arcane facts.  Even scholars rarely commit the same data, which suggests that Harbach, however well read, spends little time with others who are.  Do we all read the same books?  This is carried to such an extreme that it is almost as fatuous as the genuine “love” between a 20-year-old youngster and a 60-year-old who dies from a heart attack within a year of this ill-fated affair.  To compound the incredulity that the author creates, his knowledge of baseball is skin deep.  Yes, The Art of Fielding masquerades as a sports book, but, in truth, it is simply another treatise in support of homosexuality and the fatal diseases that it spawns.  That this novel is New York Times Best Seller speaks volumes about popular reading tastes.  Adventurous readers are forced to return increasingly to the classics, of which there is happily an inexhaustible supply.