This was a solid book to read and well written from beginning to end. The cast of characters contains people that are different from those in any book I can remember, in particular Henry, the brilliant catcher who loses his ability at a crucial moment in the book, and Mike Schwartz, the athlete/coach who is the prime mover for sports at Westish University. The story involves a collision of all the core characters and explores the permutations of Henry’s lost throwing ability on all of them. It is an unusual plot in that it involves athletics to such a degree, including the nuts and bolts of games, while at the same time wholly inhabiting the genre of literary fiction; but that is not all that makes the story unusual. The romance between young Owen, a gay baseball player and budding literary scholar, and the president of the university, a man in his sixties who has been nearly reclusive in his habits for many years, is not typical in any way. Harbach avoids the feeling of sexual harassment in this relationship of unequals while also evoking it in the plot as part of the culmination. The weakest link in the five-sided character set that gives the book its heart is Pella, the president’s daughter; she is convincing enough as a character but some of her role in the story is sacrificed to the necessity of romantic entanglements. While I enjoyed reading the novel it did not feel vital, and it did feel as if it were stretched to a degree, a fairly large degree in my opinion. Part of this feeling comes from the juggling of five different points of view, a formal challenge that meant the book felt as though it was always starting over. This is handled about as well as it can be but still caused me some loss of interest from time to time. I have read books of this length much faster than I read this one.