From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Remnick's thoughtfully curated selection of New Yorker essays spans the gamut of the sports conversation. From sketches of Tiger Woods to contemplations of the branding prowess of Michael Jordan to examinations of how "the choke" differs from panic, Remnick's choices display a deep affinity for a variety of sports and an understanding of their importance in the modern discourse. The essays, written by wildly different authors ranging from Henry Louis Gates Jr. to Malcolm Gladwell, make for an enjoyably diverse reading experience. While readers may not be fans of a particular sport or athlete, the essays are universal; covering decades of sports writing, they speak to certain ineffable qualities of athletics and explore every facet of the games we play. This anthology represents a great variety of what The New Yorker has to offer and is an excellent way to pass the time between games.
David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, never explains in his introduction what prompted him to pull together this dazzling collection of 32 sports pieces from the magazine, nor in the end does he need to. They justify themselves, dating from Ring Lardner's 1930 take on juiced-up baseballs to 2008 pieces by Anthony Lane and Haruki Murakami on the Beijing Olympics and running, respectively. There's a fine, multidimensional quality to these pieces, from Malcolm Gladwell's thoughtful reflection on the phenomenon of choking in sport (2000) to Henry Lewis Gates' shrewd study of Michael Jordan, athlete and marketing powerhouse (1998). Other articles include John Updike's iconic piece on Ted Williams' final home game (1960), Bill Barich's paean to horse racing (1980), and Susan Orlean's neat profile on Iditarod champion Susan Butcher (1987). Bonus: a liberal sprinkling of sports-related cartoons from the magazine. --Alan Moores