Today’s Google doodle celebrates the 112th birthday of John Steinbeck. And while it passes over what is arguably his greatest work, East of Eden, it is still pretty wonderful.
Happy birthday John Steinbeck.
And while I’m at it, happy birthday to my sister and fellow East of Eden fan Samantha Moats, who continues to remind me of something Steinbeck wrote: “I guess a loving woman is indestructible.”
- Michael Moats
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Why read Moby Dick?
REVIEWS OF “THE ART OF FIELDING” ARE EVERYWHERE, so there’s no need to add another extended solo to the chorus. Simply put, this is an excellent book. It had me up past bedtime turning pages like nothing I’ve read in years.
Harbach writes with an easy depth reminiscent of Steinbeck’s “East of Eden” or Bellow’s “The Adventures of Augie March.” “Fielding” follows in that distinctly American tradition of wildly entertaining philosophical texts, with stories of farmer scholars and noble, soldier poets. It’s a tradition I and many others, including Harbach and his characters, also associate with baseball and it’s athlete philosophers.
There is some flatness in the people, who tend to be drawn from a combination of everyday humanity and the graduate-level humanities of their academic setting, and I have a sense that “Fielding” could have been even better had Harbach packed more into his people and the events that bring them together. It’s interesting that he didn’t write on and on, since Melville’s expansive and deeply detailed “Moby Dick” is not just an obvious influence, but damn near a character in the story.
Still, it’s hardly a complaint to say — after closing the book and considering how soon you have to be up for work in the morning — that you wish there was more to read.
Do you want to trade paperbacks?