Guts And Glory In Bernard Malamud’s Baseball Novel

Hannah Gold at Bookforum:

IN 2014, the novelist and essayist Cynthia Ozick reviewed the collected fiction of Bernard Malamud for the New York Times. Ozick adores her slightly older contemporary for his bruised moral seriousness. The essay contains just one asterisk: “The reviewer has not read and is not likely ever to read ‘The Natural,’ a baseball novel said to incorporate a mythical theme. Myth may be myth, but baseball is still baseball, so never mind.”

I can sympathize with Ozick’s reservations to a degree. When I take the Bull Durham approach to baseball—theorizing to myself late at night in a gorgeous Southern accent—I start to think there’s a lot in it I might have a sensual affinity for: it’s a sport in which time meanders, heroes face off, a generous coolness prevails. Nonetheless, the game doesn’t meaningfully connect, which is just the opposite of what I feel about The Natural.

more here.