P&P Reading Club: Adam Webb on The Art of Fielding Chapters 18 – 33

he art of fielding by chad harbachFind more of Adam at Everyday Footnotes.

These pages are packed with charm and dread. I loved the Westish Harpooners playing High School or Prison from the bus. Pella’s over-thought panic over whether or not to clean Schwartz’s dishes was hilarious and perfect. Even Owen’s inability to widely open his mouth keeps me smiling widely a few days later.

My favorite moment in these chapters: “Opentoe College had some sort of evangelical mission that involved perpetual kindness and hopelessly outdated uniforms.”

All of these moments of relief keep us moving through growing tension in the scenes while Affenflight’s crush turns into an affair but his relentless self-doubt continues unabated. There’s no comedy for me in Pella and Genevieve’s misunderstanding of Guert’s intentions during the dinner — but I still enjoyed the heck out of it.

My guess is that no good comes from getting yourself mixed into Guert Affenlight’s life. Schwartz’s preference for drinking the president’s Scotch instead of running off with his girl seemed like a bad omen and I am especially worried for Owen’s mom, Genevieve. It’s dumb to make predictions here only to be proven wrong in a matter of days — but I think Genevieve will meet some sort of tragedy. Guert’s secret love for the child, Owen, instead of the mother reminds me of the early chapters of Lolita and Dolores’s mother’s abrupt, parenthetical death (“picnic, lightning”). I’m sure there are more apt literary comparisons (Guert is no Humbert Humbert) but the necessary research would require the following uncomfortable search query: mother son love triangle.

As for Henry and his string of errors, more than anything I’m looking forward to learning what it leads to than reading about each poor throw. Henry’s fall from perfection has already led to the introduction of college reporter, Sarah X. Pessel, who I hope will keep turning up. Which reminds me, does that X. even stand for anything?

3 Responses to “P&P Reading Club: Adam Webb on The Art of Fielding Chapters 18 – 33”


  • In Sarah X I think we find the voice of the people, of the reader, who are more apt to compare Henry’s crumbling to those of history, rather than the Westish teammate way, which is to pretend that nothing is wrong.

  • Thought about it some more, and I think there’s also something that’s done through Sarah X’s character and it gets to the point that what has ruined Henry is that he’s become like all of us, overthinking and overanalyzing his own skills, that perhaps natural beauty is lost in thought.

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