J. Robert Lennon writes:
The book is a throwback to a bygone, if not universally mourned era when charismatic white male novelists wrote intelligent bestsellers. It is a work of stridently unexperimental psychological realism, featuring likeable characters with cute nicknames, dramatic events that change people’s lives, easily identified and fully consummated narrative arcs, transparently conversational prose and big, obvious metaphors. The Art of Fielding is also a campus novel, that other great American (and British) literary vessel whose time has come and gone. Indeed, the book’s longing to revive these admittedly useful but unavoidably creaky standbys of literary form is so ludicrously foregrounded that the critical reader may perceive it as a kind of threat: a cuff on the shoulder, a meaty finger to the chest. Are ya in, the novel seems to be asking in its opening pages, or are ya out?
It’s very hard not to be in.