Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Bernard Malamud's The Natural

It's common for baseball fans to have opinions, sometimes intense ones, about baseball movies. So right off the bat (no pun intended) I will admit that I'm a big fan of The Natural. I know it's cheesy and unrealistic in a particular Hollywood sort of way, but the cheese works.

But until now I'd never read Bernard Malamud's The Natural, the 1952 novel on which the movie is based. The core structure is there--the young phenom shot down after striking out The Whammer, the return when he'd older, the corrupt owner, and so on--but it is a tragedy where the movie is a triumph. Roy Hobbs makes poor choices instead of virtuous ones, is petty instead of generous, his life destroyed versus fulfilled.

For me, both work. People have to wade through dirt and grime as they work to achieve their goals, so one is about disappointment while the other is about having it all. Take your pick based on your mood.


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