JANE’S BOEKENTIPS

THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach

and

THE FAMILY FANG by Kevin Wilson

If there were two new novelists that I would like to meet, it would be Chad Harbach and Kevin Wilson. Just because I would like to say thank you. They have both written highly entertaining stories that also really make you think about the big stuff in life…like family, failure, baseball and art. Baseball?

While THE ART OF FIELDING is not considered a true baseball book, it does have a baseball theme. Normally, I would not be drawn to a baseball story, but dramatically, baseball as a sport works really well on the page. This first novel is about five people living on the campus of a small mid-western college and their connection begins with baseball.

Henry becomes the star shortstop and Mike is the team captain and Henry’s mentor. In one eventful game, all of these characters lives will change, for better or worse. There is Owen, Henry’s roommate and teammate, who reads in the dugout and does not share the team’s passion for baseball. Guert Affenlight is the college president who stumbles into an affair that is not only dangerous, but a game changer. Finally, there is Pella, Guert’s daughter who runs away from her marriage to find some kind of solace with her father.

Harbach does a great job of giving each character their time to evolve and also creates some wonderful baseball scenes. I know it is easy to say, but you really don’t have to even like baseball to love this book. A good choice to read this summer.

THE FAMILY FANG is quirky, dark and funny. Caleb and Camille Fang are performance artists who like to create scenes and then watch  the  chaos develop. Since their children were young, the family of four has participated in these “artistic events”. But Annie and Buster are adults now, and want nothing to do with their past lives. Annie is a successful indie film actress and Buster is a struggling writer. They both have a crisis and come home to their parents out of desperation, they have no other place to go.

But Caleb and Camille are not warm and fuzzy parents and this is when the mystery begins. The book also goes back in time to Annie and Buster as children, who never really knew what was real or what was being set up by their parents for the sake of art.

At times this book is funny and yet it is also sad to see the adult children trying to make sense of the way they were raised and how they have turned out. Wilson has done a brilliant job of keeping us completely enthralled with these characters and wondering what did happen and what is going to happen. The ending will be a shock as it is like nothing you would have expected. The pages flew when I read this book, and as much as I loved it, I was sorry to have it end. I want more Fangs!

Media Alert!

In America, on June 5, there will be an Adele special. They will show the Royal Albert Hall concert that I wrote about previously, and new interviews with Matt Lauer.

Also, there is a fantastic documentary airing on American TV—Being Elmo. It is also on dvd. This film is not just about being a puppeteer, but it is about following your dream and having parents who believe in you. A great film for all ages.

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Comments

  • Kristy  On May 20, 2012 at 2:19 am

    We recently saw Being Elmo. I thought it was so interesting! Thanks for the book recommendations as always!

  • Aledys Ver  On May 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I liked what you had to say about The Family Fang, it sounds like a story I’d like to read.
    Most of my friends in Argentina are just beginning to discover Adele and they love her. That concert at the Albert Hall was really special.

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