Sunday, March 31, 2013

Five notable novels with sporting themes

Chad Harbach's novel is The Art of Fielding.

One of five top novels with sporting themes that he discussed with Alec Ash for The Browser:
You’ve chosen two books by DeLillo – the second is Underworld.

This is DeLillo’s big, thick novel which ranges over several decades of American history. It’s a book about waste, about trash, about what society sweeps under the rug. But it begins with a long overture set in perhaps the most famous professional baseball game of all time – “The Shot Heard Round The World,” the famous home run hit by Bobby Thomson in 1951. It’s an incredibly virtuosic piece of writing, that section. DeLillo becomes the Emersonian eyeball that is able to circulate not only through the game but through all the various spectators, and he paints a vivid picture of the scene in a beautiful, sinuous sort of way.

Don DeLillo understands sport better than most as a very American enactment of the religious impulse. He understands sport as an American ritual and religion, with moments of collective catharsis or hysteria. In another of his books, Mao II, there’s an amazing scene at the beginning in which a big and powerful cult has a mass marriage ceremony at Yankee stadium. He sees sport as a locus of American belief in a way that seems to me very true.
Read about another novel Harbach tagged at The Browser.

--Marshal Zeringue