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Old 07-15-2019, 05:52 PM   #16
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Malamud chose to take this character with all his hopes and dreams and destroy him totally. Why? What message does that send? Why did Malamud want to use baseball, a game of optimism and there's-always-tomorrow and wait-till-next-year to be so unbearably pessimistic?
He did go to extraordinary lengths to fix the game against Roy. It felt contrived - sort of Deus ex machina, in reverse.

I don’t have any of my own insights as to why. But according to this Wiki article, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Natural, Malamud was drawing on several sources of mythology. So apparently the soul crushing, utterly destroying fate of Roy mirrored that of other mortals battling fate.

Last edited by Victoria; 07-15-2019 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 07-15-2019, 06:16 PM   #17
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Malamud chose to take this character with all his hopes and dreams and destroy him totally. Why? What message does that send? Why did Malamud want to use baseball, a game of optimism and there's-always-tomorrow and wait-till-next-year to be so unbearably pessimistic?
Why not? Not all stories can or should have happy endings, although I agree that this particular one was unreservedly bleak. And there's the flip side of baseball, too; the side that breaks your heart, that chews up players who never get to the big show or just barely edge into it to disappear without a memory.

I read a book about the minors a few years ago, by John Feinstein. Optimism, yes, but it frequently doesn't pay off.
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Old 07-15-2019, 06:20 PM   #18
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I just like happier endings better. However, given the direction that he chose to take with Royís character, I do think that the ending was very well done. I thought the beginning was great, it started to sag in the middle, and the ending redeemed the book for me. Itís just not the ending I would have preferred for enjoyability, but I can appreciate the writing. If I were a teacher, then I think it would be a fun book to discuss with students.

The names were definitely significant. Since my library only had audio available, I canít remember many of the smaller characters. Pop was a father figure and thatís basically his final destiny because they donít win the pennant allowing him greater glory as a coach or redemption for his slump in his player years.
I find that unhappy endings tend to give me much more fodder for thought than happy ones; they stay with me longer.

As for the names, enough were obviously significant that I think they all have to be taken as such and I'm still trying to tease out the meaning of a few. What do people think about the name Memo? It's so very odd that it stands out, but I'm not entirely happy with any of my explanations. My most satisfying is that it was meant to serve as a warning to Roy, not to forget his dreadful first encounter, with Harriet.
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Old 07-15-2019, 06:26 PM   #19
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I donít think Roy was a bad person. He did care about a number of people. But every card was stacked against him, and he just didnít have any insight at all into what drove him. I didnít see his drive as lust - I thought he was trying to fill a deep terrifying personal emptiness.
As exemplified by his gargantuan appetite! And his hospitalization for overeating was borrowed from a Babe Ruth incident.

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It did remind me a bit of The Grapes of Wrath. It was the authorís first book - I wonder if he was influenced by it at all.
I like that comparison, too, but what are the odds that a book could be reminiscent of both The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath? You wouldn't think there'd be much overlap, but both comparisons work.

Malamud obviously borrowed heavily from baseball lore, even down to baseball lingo when describing games. (I admit it; I had to look up "bingle.") But for all that and other influences, I wouldn't describe the book as derivative.
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:04 PM   #20
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I thought the descriptions of baseball were great and the pacing was well done. Listening to the audiobook was reminiscent of radio broadcasts or perhaps envisioning a news reel with sports highlights before a movie in the old days.
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:11 PM   #21
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Why not? Not all stories can or should have happy endings, although I agree that this particular one was unreservedly bleak. And there's the flip side of baseball, too; the side that breaks your heart, that chews up players who never get to the big show or just barely edge into it to disappear without a memory.

I read a book about the minors a few years ago, by John Feinstein. Optimism, yes, but it frequently doesn't pay off.
Yeah, but Malamud blows up Roy's life completely. Ker-boom!

Baseball's full of regret, but it's also full of hope. Down five runs in the bottom of the ninth with two out, the game's still not completely out of reach. Redemption and victory are always possible. Except for poor Roy.

I did enjoy the game descriptions; the jargon reminded of John R. Tunis's series of novels about the Brooklyn Dodgers, from the 1940s.
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:18 PM   #22
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He also cared about the scout in the first part of the book. I agree with Catlady. I would have preferred the happier ending. I didnít like the hopelessness. I also think that Roy was decent but damaged. Itís the feeling that he had some decency and the potential to make the right decisions that makes the reader so disappointed when he canít overcome his flaws.
Yes, but isn't that the essence of tragedy.
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:19 PM   #23
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For me, that was the strength of the ending. I'd have been disappointed if he'd scored the winning run. But again, with Malamud, the name is destiny; once Youngberry came in to replace Vogelman, the ending was obvious. Youth would beat out age.

And what's with Vogelman? I'm still thinking about names. Harriet Bird shot Roy; did Roy exorcise that when he caught and killed the canary? Was that why he was able to beat the Birdman?
Wow, great analysis.
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:21 PM   #24
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He did go to extraordinary lengths to fix the game against Roy. It felt contrived - sort of Deus ex machina, in reverse.

I donít have any of my own insights as to why. But according to this Wiki article, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Natural, Malamud was drawing on several sources of mythology. So apparently the soul crushing, utterly destroying fate of Roy mirrored that of other mortals battling fate.
Yes, one of the feelings I had reading this was Roy as Greek hero. He was The Natural (god-given talent); but set up to fail through his own flawed nature.
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:21 PM   #25
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As exemplified by his gargantuan appetite! And his hospitalization for overeating was borrowed from a Babe Ruth incident.
I had it in my head that Roy was poisoned to keep him out of the game. I don't know where I got that from, but I kept waiting for it to be revealed.

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Malamud obviously borrowed heavily from baseball lore, even down to baseball lingo when describing games. (I admit it; I had to look up "bingle.") But for all that and other influences, I wouldn't describe the book as derivative.
Eddie Waitkus, Babe Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson ...
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:24 PM   #26
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As exemplified by his gargantuan appetite! And his hospitalization for overeating was borrowed from a Babe Ruth incident.
...

Malamud obviously borrowed heavily from baseball lore, even down to baseball lingo when describing games. (I admit it; I had to look up "bingle.") But for all that and other influences, I wouldn't describe the book as derivative.
There's a ton of baseball mythology. Roy saving the kid's life by hitting to end his slump, Casey striking out...

The biggest problem I had was that ending. "Say it ain't true, Roy" (Shoeless Joe and the Black Sox). Tragedy turning into farce? Was Malamud saying to not take it too seriously?
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:30 PM   #27
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Baseball's full of regret, but it's also full of hope. Down five runs in the bottom of the ninth with two out, the game's still not completely out of reach. Redemption and victory are always possible. Except for poor Roy..
LOL. Youíre literally describing the ninth inning of yesterdayís Cards versus Dbacks game!

But, you have described eloquently what makes the sport interesting (and why I donít like to leave games early because the possibility of the outcome changing is still there).
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:45 PM   #28
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Yes, but isn't that the essence of tragedy.
True. In some ways The Natural is as much about baseball as The Old Man and the Sea was about fishing.
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Old 07-15-2019, 08:32 PM   #29
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I had it in my head that Roy was poisoned to keep him out of the game. I don't know where I got that from, but I kept waiting for it to be revealed.



Eddie Waitkus, Babe Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson ...
Pete Reiser and more.

But the one that's really spooky is that Malamud seems eerily prescient. Given that the book was published in 1952, it must have been essentially written by the playoffs in 1951. But especially given that the Knights must be the New York Giants, Roy is the Bobby Thompson that didn't happen.

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Old 07-15-2019, 08:51 PM   #30
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True. In some ways The Natural is as much about baseball as The Old Man and the Sea was about fishing.
Spot on! I read this as a heathen whose knowledge of baseball and its mythologies is zero, so I'm finding the comments of the afficionados of great interest.

For me it is the story of a fatally flawed and shallow man who somehow failed to develop after he was shot, and seemed to stay the kid of 20 or whatever he was at the beginning of the story.

What man of any maturity would be put off Iris because she was a grandmother? She was his chance to put aside his wasted years and develop into a mature and rounded man, and he rejected that chance. After that, he could only go downhill.
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