Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Art of Fiction

For 2011, my favourite book was a first novel called The Art of Fielding (M) by Chad Harbach. It's a novel that revolves around a young shortstop on a college baseball team. Sort of: that description makes it sound a bit too folksy and this is very much a contemporary coming-age-story, complete with love and loss. It's a well drawn tale of the follies of modern life that uses the framework of competitive team sports to pull the reader in to the story.

The title of the novel The Art of Fielding refers to a fictional book the main character Henry Skrimshander holds dear: a how-to-manual by Henry's baseball hero Aparicio Rodriguez. The meaning of the title in both situations—the literal how-to field a baseball one and the more figurative that gets at how one deals with (or fields) the situations life present you with—is important in the book. Both types of fielding are an artsomething that requires "skill and imagination". It got me to thinking about the art of device, and how it is used elsewhere in fiction.

Like the Art of Fielding, a lot of "art of" books seem to get at relationships and how to live:

The Art of Mending (M)
by Elizabeth Berg

The Art of Living, and Other Stories (M)
by John Gardner

The Art of Seeing (M)
by Cammie McGovern

The Art of Forgetting (M)
by Camille Noe Pagán

The Art of Salvage (M)
by Leona Theis

This book is told from the perspective of a dog, but it also seems to say a lot about human interaction:

The Art of Racing in the Rain (M)
by Garth Stein

A few "art of" titles focus on romance:

The Art of Seduction
by Katherine O'Neal

The Art of French Kissing (M)
by Kristen Harmel

And it's a fairly common device in the mystery/thriller genre as well.

The Art of Survival (M)
by A. E. Maxwell

The Art of Deception (M)
by Ridley Pearson

The Art of Breaking Glass
by Matthew Hall

The Art of Detection (M)
by Laurie R. King

The Art of Drowning (M)
by Frances Fyfield

There are lost arts too:

The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets (M)
by Eva Rice

The Lost Art of Gratitude (M)
by Alexander McCall Smith

Like The Art of Fielding, my favourite art of title I've come across in researching this blog post, also has a touch of the literal and the figurative. The Art and Craft of Approaching your Head of Department to Submit a Request for a Raise (M) by Georges Perec

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