The Art of Fielding Reflection Number One
The beginning of the novel was a good hook that personally engaged me to the story, as I have played baseball for several years and reading about the plot of a baseball game, even if fictional, still interests me greatly and was a good way to introduce me, the reader, to the two main characters of the story, which are Henry Skrimshander and Mike Schwartz. I was particularly caught off-guard when Mike, the catcher behind the plate, told Henry (who was up to bat) what the next pitch was going to be, as he could not hit it anyway. Then, after Henry swings and misses, Mike calls him an ugly name. This struck me as interesting later on when I had wrapped up my first section of the book, because aside from this one incident, Mike has been completely generous to Henry, driving hundreds of miles out of his way just to eat with Henry’s dad and convince him to let his son go to college at Westish to play baseball, and personally training Henry each day to reach his true potential. We learn later on that Mike swore that he would help someone the way he was helped by his football coach (who got him back on the right track), but I find this to be a very extreme course that Mike has taken for the sake of Henry, especially after we’ve seen he’s willing to belittle people simply for being less good at something than himself. Mike also reminds me of Obi-Wan Kenobi, as he basically makes it his main life’s work to train a talented young student who feels he will not be able to pursue what he enjoys the most, and both Mike and Obi-Wan eventually suffer for their dedication to their students, as Obi-Wan dies to save Luke and Mike loses a lot of time in his dedication to training Henry and ultimately is rejected by all the schools he applied to. This will no doubt cause a rift in their relationship. And speaking of relationships, I must say that President Affenlight is quite the stalker and is a rather messed-up individual for taking interest in a person who is not only a man forty years younger than him but also attends the school over which he presides: he’s basically a low-key pedophile, except he’s interested in a person just old enough to be legal to be “interested” in (that’s just my opinion). It seems rather odd and ironic to me that the most intelligent characters introduced thus far in the series, which are President Affenlight and Pella, seem to make the least wisest choices in the novel thus far. And I must say I rather feel sorry for the relationship between Henry and his family right now, as the only mention made of their contact after he goes to college is when he comes home for Thanksgiving his freshman year (and two years have passed). Perhaps they are merely not important to the story and are thus excluded, but I feel that a rift between Henry and his family is implied by such an exclusion, important or no to the story. So far this novel is interesting and unorthodox to my experience, and as this book has some grit, lewd parts, personal struggles, and coming-of-age wrapped up in it, I can say it seems realistic enough for a fictional novel about college attendees, athletes, and authorities.