[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”0374502005″ locale=”us” height=”500″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41A0lhBmB7L.jpg” width=”332″]>[simpleazon-link asin=”0374502005″ locale=”us”]The Natural[/simpleazon-link]> by Bernard Malamud
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
From a literary standpoint, The Natural is a fine novel. The imagery sets the dark, unsettling tone that pervades the book. The dialogue is authentic (1950’s). The dry humor helps offset the unhappy circumstances. What was most notable was the way the author brought baseball to life making it exciting, filling it with tension, and even creating a sense of menace that would normally be excepted of a suspense or thriller novel. The characters are not particularly likeable, but one senses their desperation and that creates some empathy. On the downside, the book is dated in that it is clearly a 1950’s mentality. The attitude toward women is misogynistic at best. Most of the novel has a dreamlike, surreal quality that brings everything into question. And for those of you who’ve seen the movie, it’s nothing like it. In sum, I really liked the literary qualities and found it to be a quick and absorbing read. But it was also dark, depressing and not something I would’ve chosen to read if not for it being selected by my book club. If you are a lifelong fan of baseball, particularly if you are nostalgic for it, you may enjoy this book. There are a lot of references to real ballplayers and actual events that I only caught because my copy had a comprehensive introduction explaining it all. The baseball lover may enjoy puzzling it all out.
“He was traveling (on the train that never stopped). His self, his mind, raced on and he felt he hadn’t stopped going wherever he was going because he hadn’t yet arrived” (p. 41).
“Like a rusty locomotive pulling out of the roundhouse for the first time in years, they ground down the tracks, puffing, wheezing, belching smoke and shooting sparks” (p. 86).
“…talk about his inner self was always like plowing up a graveyard” (p. 149).