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The Only Game in Town: Sportswriting from The New Yorker Hardcover – June 8, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (June 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400068029
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400068029
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #487,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Some amazing writers from various disciplines have contributed to the pages of The New Yorker in the magazine's 80-plus-year history. More than 30 of them are included in this wonderful anthology of the best from the world of sports, in itself a competition of sorts.

One would not find these pieces in the back pages of a local newspaper. These are thoughtful, long pieces that go beyond the box score and records, or the simple accomplishments on the various fields of play. Some --- like "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," John Updike's chronicle of Ted Williams's final game --- have become part of the larger time capsule of sports' legendary figures, both subject and author (a 50th anniversary edition of "Hub Fans" was published earlier this year by the Library of America). Others --- such as Lillian Ross's "El Unico Matador," perhaps the only profile ever written about a gay Jewish-American bullfighter --- offer people, places and events they otherwise would never discover.

It is fitting that New Yorker staple Roger Angell "leads off" the collection with his famous report of a classic 1-0 extra-inning 1981 college contest between Frank Viola of St. John's and Ron Darling of Yale. (And if you want to know the details, in the words of the eminent baseball philosopher Casey Stengel, "you could look it up.") Adding to the enjoyment of Angell's tale: the presence and commentary of "Smoky Joe" Wood, a standout of the early 1900s and later a college coach himself. Other notable writers include John Cheever on fathers, sons and baseball; Henry Louis Gates, Jr. on Michael Jordan; A. J. Liebling on the 1955 Marciano-Moore fight; and John McPhee on Princeton basketball star (and later U.S. senator) Bill Bradley.

But is good writing on its own enough of a draw?
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Format: Hardcover
If you're a hopeless follower of the classic periodical "The New Yorker" and have a love for sports, this is your book. Contained herein are selected stories from the best sports writing of a classic magazine. This is the type of book that you don't read in order from cover to cover. The selection of stories range from subjects of baseball to bullfighting to ping pong written by such Authors as Roger Angell, John Updike to Ring Lardner and Adam Gopnik.
David Remnick selected this compilation of stories and dedicated the book to Roger Angell who is the senior august sports writer for the New Yorker. In fact the very first story is the classic baseball saga entitled "The Web of the Game" written in 1981 by the aforementioned Mr. Angell. This story is an absolute classic of which I've seen nothing written any better on the subject of our national pastime. While this story is my favorite writing in this book, the other selections are eclectic and diverse with great writing.
This is a type of book which you don't gulp down from chapter to chapter. It is to be taken as a fine wine. Sipping is allowed to digest these stories of sport which goes far beyond the normal jock type sports writing where the spoils of victory are the only rhyme of reason. These stories go beyond the "jock mentality" of present day Fox sports and immediate Sports Center gratification coming from the studios of ESPN. This is the type of book that you go for an eclectic night's diversion of thoughtful insight into the world of sport as seen from the writer's prospective of that certain time period. The stories are humorous at times. sad at times and always thought provoking. Also as an aside, in true New Yorker tradition, its pages are scattered with its thought provoking cartoons.
Great read and fully deserving the 5 Star rating!!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a pretty much foolproof anthology.

Most people know about The New Yorker's rich history of publishing great writing over the decades. The writers are a who's who of American literature. To take some of the best sports stories and put them in a book called "The Only Game in Town" is a natural.

David Remnick has done that. The editor of the New Yorker showed his own sports writing chops with a fabulous book on Muhammad Ali, so it's nice that he didn't bother to delegate this assignment of putting together the anthology together.

So a book like this is going to be really, really good. But how good? How is the typical sports fan going to enjoy it? That's a little tougher question.

When I look at other anthologies, my usual standard is to see what the batting average is for interesting articles. Let's apply that here.

There are some absolute, well-known classics here. Roger Angell's story on a college baseball game between St. John's and Yale retains its glory almost 30 years after it was written. John McPhee's profile of college basketball star Bill Bradley, "A Sense of Where You Are," fascinates to this day. And anyone could have guessed that John Updike's tale of Ted Williams' last game, "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu," would be in here.

The best parts here might be the lesser known stories that therefore rank as surprises. Adam Gopnik has a terrific story on coaching kids' football, even if that hardly does the rich subject matter justice. Who expected an art history lesson in such a story, not to mention a touching personal tale? It might be my favorite story in the book, at least of those I hadn't read elsewhere.
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