Quotes from The Art of Fielding

Chad Harbach ·  512 pages

Rating: (93K votes)


“You told me once that a soul isn't something a person is born with but something that must be built, by effort and error, study and love. And you did that with more dedication than most, that work of building a soul-not for your own benefit but for the benefit of those that knew you.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“So much of one's life was spent reading; it made sense not to do it alone.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“Literature could turn you into an asshole: he’d learned that teaching grad-school seminars. It could teach you to treat real people the way you did characters, as instruments of your own intellectual pleasure, cadavers on which to practice your critical faculties.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“She hated the namelessness of women in stories, as if they lived and died so that men could have metaphysical insights.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“It was strange the way he loved her; a side long and almost casual love, as if loving her were simply a matter of course, too natural to mention”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding



“Each of us, deep down, believes that the whole world issues from his own precious body, like images projected from a tiny slide onto an earth-sized screen. And then, deeper down, each of us knows he’s wrong.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“What would he say to her, if he was going to speak truly? He didn't know. Talking was like throwing a baseball. You couldn't plan it out beforehand. You just had to let go and see what happened. You had to throw out words without knowing whether anyone woud catch them -- you had to throw out words you knew no one would catch. You had to send your words out where they weren't yours anymore. It felt better to talk with a ball in your hand, it felt better to let the ball do the talking. But the world, the nonbaseball world, the world of love and sex and jobs and friends, was made of words.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“People thought becoming an adult meant that all your acts had consequences; in fact it was just the opposite.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“But baseball was different. Schwartz thought of it as Homeric - not a scrum but a series of isolated contests. Batter versus pitcher, fielder versus ball. You couldn't storm around, snorting and slapping people, the way Schwartz did while playing football.You stood and waited and tried to still your mind. When your moment came, you had to be ready, because if you fucked up, everyone would know whose fault it was. What other sport not only kept a stat as cruel as the error but posted it on the scoreboard for everyone to see?”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“The Human Condition being, basically, that we’re alive and have access to beauty, can even erratically create it, but will someday be dead and will not.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding



“...a soul isn't something a person is born with but something that must be built, by effort and error, study and love.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“Owen," Henry said excitedly, "I think Coach wants you to hit for Meccini."

Owen closed The Voyage of the Beagle, on which he had recently embarked. "Really?"

"Runners on first and second," Rick said. "I bet he wants you to bunt."

"What's the bunt sign?"

"Two tugs on the left earlobe," Henry told him. "But first he has to give the indicator, which is squeeze the belt. But if he goes to his cap with either hand or says your first name, that's the wipe-off, and then you have to wait and see whether--"

"Forget it," Owen said. "I'll just bunt.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“There are no whys in a person's life, and very few hows. In the end, in search of useful wisdom, you could only come back to the most hackneyed concepts, like kindness, forbearance, infinite patience. Solomon and Lincoln: This too shall pass. Damn right it will. Or Chekhov: Nothing passes. Equally true.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“Life was long, unless you died, and he didn’t intend to spend the next sixty years talking about the last twenty-two.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“Henry knew better than to want freedom. The only life worth living was the unfree life, the life Schwartz had taught him, the life in which you were chained to your one true wish, the wish to be simple and perfect. Then the days were sky-blue spaces you moved through with ease. You made sacrifices and the sacrifices made sense. You ate till you were full and then you drank SuperBoost, because every ounce of muscle meant something. You stoked the furnace, fed the machine. No matter how hard you worked, you could never feel harried or hurried, because you were doing what you wanted and so one moment simply produced the next.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding



“But people didn't forgive you for doing what felt right-that was the last thing they forgave you for.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“For Schwartz this formed the paradox at the heart of baseball, or football, or any other sport. You loved it because you considered it an art: an apparently pointless affair, undertaken by people with special aptitude, which sidestepped attempts to paraphrase its value yet somehow seemed to communicate something true or even crucial about The Human Condition. The Human Condition being, basically, that we're alive and have access to beauty, can even erratically create it, but will someday be dead and will not.

Baseball was an art, but to excel at it you had to become a machine. It didn't matter how beautifully you performed SOMETIMES, what you did on your best day, how many spectacular plays you made. You weren't a painter or a writer--you didn't work in private and discard your mistakes, and it wasn't just your masterpieces that counted.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“There were no whys in a person's life, and very few hows. In the end, in search of useful wisdom, you could only come back to the most hackneyed concepts, like kindness, forbearance, infinite self patience.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“He felt a touch of sadness now that it had happened, now that he knew what it was like. Not because it wasn't enjoyable, or wouldn't be repeated, but because one more of life's mysteries had been revealed.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“He already knew he could coach. All you had to do was look at each of your players and ask yourself: What story does this guy wish someone would tell him about himself? And then you told the guy that story.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding



“It might have sounded silly, but Affenlight loved the way Owen always picked these same two mugs and even, presumably, went so far as to rinse them in the sink when they were dirty. Such consistency suggested, or seemed to suggest, that Owen found their afternoons worth repeating, even down to the smallest detail. This was the dreamy, paradisiacal side of domestic ritual: when all the days were possessed of the same minutiae precisely because you wanted them to be.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“That was what made the story so epic: the player, the hero, had to suffer mightily en route to his final triumph. Schwartz knew that people loved to suffer, as long as the suffering made sense. Everybody suffered. The key was to choose the form of your suffering. Most people couldn't do this alone; they needed a coach. A good coach made you suffer in a way that suited you. A bad coach made everyone suffer in the same way, and so was more like a torturer.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“It was strange the way he loved her: a sidelong and almost casual love, as if loving her were simply a matter of course, too natural to mention. Like their first meeting on the steps of the gym, when he’d hardly so much as glanced at her. With David and every guy before David, what passed for love had always been eye to eye, nose to nose; she felt watched, observed, like the prize inhabitant of a zoo, and she wound up pacing, preening, watching back, to fit the part. Whereas Mike was always beside her.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“Putting Henry at shortstop - it was like taking a painting that had been shoved in a closet and hanging it in the ideal spot. You instantly forgot what the room had looked like before.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“3. There are three stages. Thoughtless being. Thought. Return to thoughtless being.

33. Do not confuse the first and third stages. Thoughtless being is attained by everyone, the return to thoughtless being by a very few.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding



“Schartz would never live in a world so open. His would always be occluded by the fact that his understanding and his ambition outstripped his talent. He'd never be as good as he wanted to be, not at baseball, not at football, not at reading Greek or taking the LSAT. And beyond all that he'd never be as _good_ as he wanted to be. He'd never found anything inside himself that was really good and pure, that wasn't double-edged, that couldn't just as easily become its opposite. He had tried and failed to find that thing and he would continue to try and fail, or else he would leave off trying and keep on failing. He had no art to call his own. He knew how to motivate people, manipulate people, move them around, this was his only skill. He was like a minor Greek god you've barely heard of, who sees through the glamour of the armor and down into the petty complexity of each soldier's soul. And in the end is powerless to bring about anything resembling his vision. The loftier, arbitrary gods intervene.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“A moment would come, and then another, and then another. These moments would be his life.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“The doctor said a ball hit me. But I don’t remember batting.” “You were in the dugout. Henry made a bad throw.” “Henry did? Really? Are you sure?” “Yes.” “Well, it’s always the ones you least suspect.” Owen let his eyes fall shut. “I don’t remember anything at all. Was I reading?” Affenlight nodded. “I warned you. It’s a dangerous pastime.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“We don't have a single goddamn thing left to prove to anyone. We're proven. Today we play.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding


“Neither had said so, but she could tell. Unless she was just paranoid, living in her head again, but you always lived in your head and you had to go with what you felt.”
― Chad Harbach, quote from The Art of Fielding



About the author

Chad Harbach
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