The Natural

Bernard Malamud

Read April-May 2006

Malamud's book is now so much a part of the literary landscape that it is difficult to approach with an untainted mind. Yet it rewards the effort. Having only read about the book, never having read it or watched the movie, I expected a syrupy serving. Instead it manages a dark, oppressive feel, and offers a moving and credible portrait as much about a now-past American landscape as about a sport or sportsman. It is a portrait of an era that is now often presented as an idyllic time; its latent horror could not be captured more effectively or credibly than by a contemporary, and surely the treatment here has not be bettered. It is, almost incidentally, also a fantastic (literally) portrayal of the mind of a sportsman, ranking alongside works like Krabbe's.