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The Only Game in Town: Sportswriting from The New Yorker Hardcover – June 8, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
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?Read more ›
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!!
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great collection of sports stories and profiles. The writing is superb if a little 'selected'. Good writing never goes out of style.Published 18 months ago by Patrick C. Wilson
Great book for all sports fans. Excellent variety of sports. Passion is found in every story. You will appreciate the depth.Published on May 12, 2014 by bduncan
Smart, sophisticated writing by some great authors in this collection. THE NEW YORKER continues to provide outstanding essays on a number of topics, sports included.Published on February 1, 2013 by Dave Ackerman
Wonderful essays about the importance of athletics; very well-written and carefully selected. A classic and a keeper. Any 13-year old will be pleased to grow older with this. Read morePublished on September 25, 2012 by Peter Bonoff
I bought this book for two of my nephews. The content was so good I wished I had bought one for myself and probably will. Read morePublished on January 1, 2012 by Old English Teacher
We're big New Yorker fams to begin with; this is a great collection with great variety. Highly recommend it-- has a lot of great viewpoints.Published on September 10, 2011 by PLS
Even if you don't like sports, you'll like this book.
First--every word matters in the short story, so you don't get bored as the writer drags onandonandon about the color of... Read more
I know many readers here do not like reviews like this. I so want to read this book, but not at the price listed by the publisher. Get this publisher to reduce the price to $9. Read morePublished on July 27, 2010 by Steven A. Schwindt
Terrific stories from best writers at the New Yorker. Well chosen, introduced me to some writers I was not familiar with, and provided several great moments. Read morePublished on July 26, 2010 by GrayingGuitarMan