Mark Lamster

  • A Terrible Splendor

    Tennis may be a joy to play and a pleasure to watch, but it’s not a sport that lends itself easily to literary endeavor. The average tennis match has a few hundred largely indistinguishable points, and the scoring system reads like something out of a high school calculus book. An entire library devoted to the sport might be reduced a handful of volumes and one classic work of nonfiction, John McPhee’s Levels of the Game, published forty years ago.

    That book is constructed around a single match, a 1968 US Open semifinal between Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner. In McPhee’s hands, the otherwise