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Photo by Lisa Jane Persky
Josh Wilker was late. In fact, we both were. I’d asked him to review Chad Harbach’s “The Art of Fielding” sometime prior to that book’s release in hardcover, and then we both … forgot about it. Rather, Josh and his wife had a baby, the book appeared to widespread acclaim, and by the time I noticed the essay had never arrived, we were on to other things. Only we weren’t. In April, 2011, just prior to LARB’s launch, Josh sent me his piece. It was kind of about Harbach’s novel and also about Moby Dick, Tom Seaver, LSD, rural corruption, American utopias. It was amazing, and it struck me as everything I’d ever want “criticism” (if that’s what it is) to be: both addressing its subject and free of that subject, measured and yet emotional, imagistic but abstract, lettered and articulate even as its author happily admitted to areas of ignorance. It was, and is, one of my favorite things we’ve yet published, and the fact that it was “late” (according to the promotional cycle, which has absolutely nothing to do with how books live in the world) was simply overturned by the fact that it is timeless. Just like its subjects, the American novel and our beloved pastime, unfolding in those mortal fields of eternity.—Matthew Specktor