Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Henry Skrimshander is a flawless shortstop at Westish College, until an errant throw knocks out his roommate and knocks out Henry's confidence in his throws.  Thanks to Henry, and his Svengali, Mike Schwartz, Westish has risen from the depths of oblivion to a contender for the national baseball title.  Henry's plunge from superstar to head case costs the team a few wins, and, next thing you know, Henry is warming the bench, and the attention from pro scouts has dwindled.  The team hangs in there, though, with a capable replacement shortstop and some dynamite pitching.  Meanwhile, Henry literally wastes away, depressed and shrinking from all his friends' attempts to resurrect his spirit and his sanity.  A second storyline follows another fall from grace, as the distinguished president of the college, Guert Affenlight, becomes romantically involved with Henry's roommate, Owen—nicknamed Buddha for his calm and insightful demeanor—and draws the attention of the school's administration.  Perhaps a liaison with a female student would have been less odious, but the fact remains that Guert has stepped out of line, even as he finds the companionship that his life has always lacked.  His story is more tragic than Henry's, but I found it less compelling.  I kept waiting for Henry to find the magic dust that would restore his confidence and put him back in the lineup, but that would wrap things up a little too neatly, and Harbach has other plans for Henry, who ultimately redeems himself through sacrifice, and I don't mean a bunt or a sac fly.

1 comment:

grogana said...

I loved this book! Themes of commitment and dedication and finding oneself! 5 stars