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Natural [Turtleback]

Bernard Malamud
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 2003 0606277870 978-0606277877

The classical novel (and basis for the acclaimed film) now in a new edition

Introduction by Kevin Baker

The Natural, Bernard Malamud’s first novel, published in 1952, is also the first—and some would say still the best—novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material—the story of a superbly gifted “natural” at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era—and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work. Four decades later, Alfred Kazin’s comment still holds true: “Malamud has done something which—now that he has done it!—looks as if we have been waiting for it all our lives. He has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology.”
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Roy Hobbs, the protagonist of The Natural, makes the mistake of pronouncing aloud his dream: to be the best there ever was. Such hubris, of course, invites divine intervention, but the brilliance of Bernard Malamud's novel is the second chance it offers its hero, elevating him--and his story--into the realm of myth. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.


“A brilliant and unusually fine novel.” —The New York Times

“A preposterously readable story about life.” —Time

“Malamud [holds a] high and honored place among contemporary American writers.” —Washington Post Book World

“The finest novel about baseball since Ring Lardner left the scene.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
Roy Hobbs pawed at the glass before thinking to prick a match with his thumbnail and hold the spurting flame in his cupped palm close to the lower berth window, but by then he had figured it was a tunnel they were passing through and was no longer surprised at the bright sight of himself holding a yellow light over his head, peering back in. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rare case where the movie is better than the book June 22 2004
By A Customer
I read this book on the strength of the Robert Redford movie and not only because I was looking for a happy ending, either. It's usually the case where the movie adaptation of a book strips down the characters and pursues fewer plot lines than the book. But in this sad, bump-along novel, it's just the opposite.
The "Natural" doesn't stand the test of time. Maybe way back in the day you could have invented a Roy Hobbs and the anti-hero story would be received as edgy and avant garde. But it's hokey now and too simplistic: the would-be hero who can't prevail because he chases what's bad for him and ensures his own destruction in spite of tremendous "natural" talent. We're not surprised by the ending at all. We expect it. We get it. We saw it play out in the last presidential administration. We're sick of it.
It's one thing for a novel to be dark, it's another for that darkness to get in the way of the narrative, character development, and so on. Which is exactly what I loved so much about the movie. Remember those great scenes with Wilfred Brimley and the assistant coach? Remember when they were whistling to each other, playing "name that tune?" Those two characters have absolutely no depth at all in this book. The manager's reduced to a grouchy head of steam full of resentment and doubt for everyone. The assistant coach is just a box of fortune cookies come alive, kicking out hayseed credos and cutting the tension here and there. People we thought we KNEW by the end of the movie barely have any narrative power ripple over them in this book.
Some of the pitiful contrivances are out-of-this world corny, implausible, or irrelevant: Roy's chance meeting with Memo, his gargantuan appetite, his magic tricks.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Negative Baseball Player May 20 2004
Why would a well-rounded baseball player bring down his team's chances of winning a championship game? Roy Robbs, the main character of the novel, seems to have reasons for creating this downfall. He experienced numerous, tragic flaws led to his downfall. Roy brings his team down, makes regretful decisions, ignores the coach, and chose to be around the wrong characters in the novel.
Being on a team does not mean one person does all the work. A team needs everyone to contribute and if one person lets up, it could bring the rest of the team down. In this book, Roy brings the team down in a couple of different ways. He started letting the team down after he replaced the best player on the team who had recently passed away. He did not care about being a team player as he said to Harriet, a lady he met on the bus, "I bet some day I will break every record for throwing and hitting"(pg.30). These dreams of wealth and power set him up for failure. Also, shortly after the team started winning, Roy had fallen into a major league slump and the whole team fell apart. This left them wandering if they would ever recover from their losing streak.
His decision making about women was less then desirable. Some of the decisions he made didn't make sense. First, he fell for a women named Memo Paris shortly after he noticed her for the first time. He didn't even know her and he was determined to meet her. After her boyfriend died, she hung out with him and blamed him for Bump's death. Throughout the book, she had been setting him up for disaster. All she wanted was his money and fame. He didn't even realize she was using him. Later in the book, he meets another lady named Iris, who helped him break out of his slump. She was very understanding and kind to him.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Malamud's Masterpiece March 2 2004
By Ashley
In the beggining of the story, Roy Hobbs is traveling to Chicago where he will try out for the cubs. His destiny is altered when a woman named Harriet Bird shoots Roy in the stomach leaving him unable to play the game of baseball for years to follow.
Fifteen years later, Roy gets his start on a professional baseball team called the Knights. During this time, the story reveals Roy's character flaws. Although he is seen by all to be one of the best baseball players that ever lived, his big ego, sexual tendencies, and large appetite set him behind in the game. In the end of the story, Roy loses it for the team on account of these flaws.
Important characters in this story are Memo,Pop,Max Mercy and The Judge.
Id have to say i thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Malamud's writing style is fast paced and an easy read. He uses metaphors quite often resulting in an in depth perspective. I wasnt too keen about the idea of reading a novel about baseball, but Malamud makes this story so much more than just that.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A graceful parable. May 26 2003
Format:Library Binding
"The Natural" is a quiet, contemplative novel that uses the mythology of baseball to frame a poetic parable of fate...of the idea of "what could have been."
Baseball, more than any other sport, has a history composed equally of fact and legend. That's its' charm. Using that gauzy place between the real and the myth, Malamud tells the tale of Roy Hobbs, the greatest baseball player who ever lived, but who hardly ever played.
Hobbs' life, at least the part we are privy to, is shaped by his decisions and actions surrounding three women. They each, and I'm reducing this to absurdity, represent a basic ideal: home-spun decency, harsh reality and seductive temptation. It could be said that where he ends up at the end of the novel is determined solely by the choices he makes regarding each woman. His character becomes better defined as the reader discovers Hobbs' feelings towards each as well.
It's difficult not to see Robert Redford's face in the mind's eye, nor to hear Randy Newman's music in the background whilst reading the book. Those images and sounds have penetrated popular culture so deeply, it doesn't matter if you haven't seen the movie.
Read the book first, then see the movie. They actually make the other better.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Natural a great american baseball story
This book is a very good book. It is especially favored by people who like baseball. The book is about Roy Hobs and him trying to become the best in the MLB, but he gets shot and... Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2004 by Fry
1.0 out of 5 stars say it ain't true
Do not come to this book wanting to read it if you are a big fan of the movie. My brother told me to quit reading when I was halfway through and I should have taken his advice. Read more
Published on May 3 2002 by Brian A. Hotrum
1.0 out of 5 stars All he ever wanted
All he ever wanted was to be the best at baseball. Roy wanted to be the best, but Bump thought
he was the best. before one game they got into a fight. Read more
Published on April 16 2002 by Logan
5.0 out of 5 stars Say it ain't so Roy
The Natural is as fine a piece of baseball fiction as I have ever read. Roy Hobbs, a player with unlimited ability, makes a mistake and pays for it the rest of his life. Read more
Published on April 3 2002 by Mark Davis
3.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic novel and a fantastic flick
...There seem to be two divergent opinions on this book and its relationship with the movie. Some say that the movie is another example of Hollywood creating simply another... Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2002 by LukeR
5.0 out of 5 stars The SUPER-Natural
This book ought to be titled "The Super-Natural," rather than "The Natural," since there are so many mythic and magical elements to it, in both style and content. Read more
Published on Dec 30 2001 by A reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Like A Barry Bonds Home Run...
don't watch the movie, the book is so much better...unless you are the type that lives life through rose colored glasses, you'll be able to deal with the cynicism abd observations... Read more
Published on Dec 24 2001 by Erren Geraud Kelly
4.0 out of 5 stars The Natural
If I were to give this book a rating on its plot, characters, interest, and storyline then I would have to give this 5 stars. Bernard Malamud wrote this book brilliantly. Read more
Published on Dec 6 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars must read
By far the greatest Baseball novel ever written. Different from the movie, may shock some people but without a doubt an American classic, if only all books were this captivating.
Published on Dec 6 2001 by Stanley
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