Sunday, September 9, 2012

Book Review: The Natural

The second of the baseball summer reading trilogy, The Natural by Bernard Malamud is an acknowledged classic.  Written in 1952, the novel charts the fall and rise and yet another fall of Roy Hobbs and his bat Wonderboy.  Definitely one of the top fictional books about baseball, The Natural was made into a successful movie in 1984 and one I have yet to see but while the book ends on a downer, apparently Hollywood saw fit to change the movie ending to a more upbeat one.

The book shows an uglier side of the game, specifically the pressure to win (and lose), rabid fandom, and the deviousness of team owners.  The passages describing coach Pop Fisher and owner Judge Banner are excellent.  Oddly enough, the Rangers seem to have their own Roy Hobbs in Josh Hamilton, who in his short career has had some terrific stretches offset by horrible troughs.  As a further aside, the Rangers play the theme from the movie when the home team hits a home run in Arlington.

Malamud was not a prolific writer and The Natural is his best known work.  He did, however, win a Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for The Fixer.  I will have to track that one down...

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