The Natural, in my opinion, is one of the best movies featuring baseball ever made. I never read the book it was based off of, though, and to my surprised it's just as good. It was Bernard Malamud's first published novel, and I suppose it helped solidify baseball as the cliched topic for Serious Writers.
I've always liked the film's, and now the book, allusions to the history of the game, the way it folded in a variety of myths and stories. It isn't just some alternate history, though. The writing is fantastic, and Malamud's prose deserves recognition for elevating a subject that often times attracts overwritten drivel.
Some thoughts to get discussion started:
- How many of the baseball 'myths' and allusions did you catch? Any strike you as particularly engaging?
- The Natural also alludes to numerous mythologic tales. One in particular is the Fisher King, a wounded hero who can do nothing but wait out his days fishing. Although Hobbs is able to overcome his ailment for a short time, it was a short lived victory. Do you catch any other literary allusions?
- The Roy Hobbs that appears in the book differs significantly from the movie version. Although they often say the same things, the motivations are quite different. Whereas the movie Hobbs was a pious, and incorruptible person, the book Hobbs is wracked with doubt, greed, lust, and a single-mindedness that rarely cares what others want or need. Do you feel this is a fair characterization, and which version do you prefer?
- One of the biggest questions in reading the book revolves around the ending. Did you prefer the film or the book's ending? Do you think Hobbs deserved redemption, or scorn?
- Next month we'll be reading The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America's Childhood by Jane Leavy. This thread will be up until January 15th, at which point we'll switch to the Last Boy.
- Previously on The Book-A-Thon: