What if the Rapture happens, leaving behind a few? Or what if it wasn't the Rapture at all, but something murkier, a burst of mysterious, apparently random disappearances that shattered the world in a single moment, dividing history into Before and After, leaving no one unscathed? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down? That's what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened--not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.
Tom Perotta's The Leftovers is a startling, thought-provoking novel about love, connection, and loss, set in a progressive suburban town not entirely dissimilar from our own, where there's more than one kind of unsettling disappearance and no family is left untouched.
And now for something completely different...Chad Harbach's debut novel, The Art of Fielding, couldn't be more quintessentially American, with its trappings of a small liberal arts college setting, baseball diamonds, and Herman Melville's contributions to American letters. At Westish College, a small school on the Wisconsin shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended. Henry's fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry's gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners' team captain and Henry's best friend, realizes he has guided Henry's career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert's daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.
As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment--to oneself and to others.
The Odyssey staff (Neil! Diana! Nieves! Emily!) loved this book so much that it will be our signed first edition club selection for October, so we will have signed copies available in a little over a month. We'll let you know when they're available.
(To read Emily's review of The Art of Fielding, not posted here because of a few salty phrases, please click here.)