The Art of Fielding
Little, Brown: 528 pp., $25.99
In terms of conjuring a shorthand for a certain American innocence, there are few delivery systems quite so direct as baseball. Touched on by a library's worth of authors including John Updike, Stephen King and Don DeLillo, there's something about the game's deliberate pace, individual focus and enduring simplicity that seems irresistible to novelists. With that in mind, it was hard to imagine Chad Harbach's debut novel about a scrappy college baseball team offering much new to say about the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd or anything resembling Updike's "lyric little bandbox"...