• print • June/July/Aug 2022

    One Syllable at a Time

    ONE DAY IN MARCH 1948, a twenty-five-year-old clerk in the French colonial administration in Ivory Coast experienced a transformative vision. He reported that the sky opened and “seven colored suns described a circle of beauty around their ‘Mother-Sun’” and that he was then called upon to be “the Revealer.” This divine command would set Frédéric Bruly Bouabré on an investigative path deep into the folklore, language, and religion of his people, the Bété, an undertaking that produced voluminous texts and thousands of drawings, all aimed at elucidating his cultural heritage as the foundation of

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Death Becomes Him

    IN THE UNRULY ANNALS of twentieth-century American art, Andrew Wyeth (1917–2009) carved a quiet place for himself as a chronicler of clapboard fronts and windswept fields in the shadeless stretches of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and, later, Maine. The artist imbued his portraits and landscapes with a kind of sacred plainness, his drybrush paintings capturing the specific dust-in-the-water melancholia of Middle America.  

    For a painter so steeped in realism, Wyeth cultivated quite a mystique about himself. An aura of death permeated his paintings, rendering them at once fragile and leaden.

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Artful Volumes

    Like a mixtape, a Steve Keene painting is meant to be passed hand to hand, with affection. He’s been giving them away, or selling them for a song, going on thirty years. Keene, an artist who estimates 300,000 works to his name, came up indie-rock adjacent, pals with Pavement. Like that band’s best albums, Keene’s art is poppy, bright, deliberately unkempt, slyly confrontational, and super “college.” His subjects include founding fathers, LPs, astronauts, and so much more, but who can keep up? He’s got theories about fast technique, and what it means to be so prolific and cheap, but he doesn’t

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Quite Contrary

    IN A RECENT PIECE FOR GAWKER, “Gary Indiana Hates in Order to Love,” Paul McAdory looked at how the writer makes affective intensities cooperate. “Indiana’s greatness,” McAdory wrote, “rests partly on his ability to fling aside the sheer curtains partitioning love from hate and extract a superior pleasure from their mixture.” It may be bad form to quote a parallel review of the book I’m looking at—Fire Season, a collection of essays stretching back to 1991—or maybe it’s just confusing to do so without going into attack mode. Sorry, odiophiliacs! I want to simply agree with McAdory’s essay and

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Mixed Doubles

    IN 1974, Elaine Sturtevant slipped out of the art world to play tennis with a man whose serve she couldn’t return. She said little about her decade-long departure from art, either about why she left or what she did during that period—“I was writing, thinking, playing tennis, and carrying on.” The American artist, best known for “repeating” major works by major men, had already proven herself a genius in the game of doubles. Let them catch up, she said, and switched to a game with different rules but similar design. 

    Like fellow genius and tennis freak Anna Kavan, whose midlife adoption of her

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Flair Play

    THERE’S ONE GOOD FOLDER on my computer desktop. “Images,” its title reads, opaquely, enticingly. Inside, one can find a curated compendium of visual curios, pop-culture bric-a-brac, and internet detritus: a mud-speckled Sidney Poitier adjusting his amber motocross goggles in a still from 1973’s A Warm December; an uncanny stock image of a smiling, multiracial group of men and women standing in V-formation against an antiseptic white backdrop. A recent favorite is a Walter Iooss Jr. photograph of former Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star outfielder Dave Parker smoking a cigarette in the dugout during

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    The Year of Magic Thinking

    AS THE NEW YORK YANKEES remain baseball’s Unavoidable Fact, even when mediocre, so have the Los Angeles Lakers been nearly impossible for basketball fans to escape, despite having just completed one of their most maladroit seasons in recent memory. (For the benefit of those who neither know nor care, this year’s edition finished 33–49, even with reigning-if-aging superstar-in-chief LeBron James on the roster.) The reasons for the Lakers’ omnipresence are not obscure: even casual sports fans know how dominant the Lakers franchise has been in the global pop-cultural psyche since the 1980s, when

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    The Running of the Bulls

    MIDWAY THROUGH GRADUATE SCHOOL, I started to dislike reading. I spent my days skimming academic articles and my evenings skimming novels in search of quotes for my dissertation. I turned to television: sitcoms and basketball. When I developed insomnia, I returned to books—books about basketball.

    Like many in my generation, I had long been fascinated by Michael Jordan. I grew up in Jamaica and so knew nothing of American sports during the Bulls’ 1990s championship runs. But I had seen the highlights, the insulting flash of his pink tongue, and the way gravity bent around his body. And I had

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Alas, King Richard

    RICHARD WILLIAMS DEMANDS GLORY. The pursuit of glory is revised madness, the ambition of addicts, to get so high they collapse, and are forced to repeat the ascent as if for the first time. It’s preemptive repentance disguised as innocent yearning to win. You have to need vindication to need victory so desperately. Richard Williams is looking for redemption. In a scene from a 1990s video of Richard, father of tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, we see him genuflecting on a tennis court in Compton, California, in front of a shopping cart full of tennis balls—the ground swells with them.

    Read more
  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Applauded at Every Point

    A TENNIS MATCH HAS AT LEAST FORTY-EIGHT BEGINNINGS and endings; you need to win a minimum of forty-eight points to win a match. An orchestra traditionally receives a single round of applause at the conclusion of a performance. A professional tennis player at a large tournament is applauded after every point.

    It makes sense, then, that Geoff Dyer would write a book about tennis that doubles as a book about endings. The Last Days of Roger Federer begins by mourning what seems to be the imminent ending of the career of Federer, the most sublime tennis player of all time. This meditation leads to

    Read more
  • review • May 31, 2022

    The summer issue is online now!

    At the height of the pandemic, sports stadiums took on an eerie quality: they became so quiet. It was a stark reminder of the symbiotic relationship between star athletes and fans. If a great goal is scored and no one cheers, does it even exist? It must, because we still watched from afar, and were moved by those roarless games. And as stadiums reopened, the hunger for sports—and the connections and rivalries among fans—proved to be as strong as ever. Following our favorite teams, we obsess, we admire, and we are disappointed, because even the best players can’t win them all. In a special

    Read more
  • excerpt • May 10, 2022

    Sick Time

    Sickness narratives do not always start with symptoms and end in recovery. Treatment does not always follow test. A new diagnosis might arrive at any time, or never. Sick time is not linear time. It is circular. It lapses and relapses, it drags, loops and buffers. 

    I desired a singular narrative but the form, with its need to end in a place it did not begin, refused to accept my version of events. I originally proposed an order that followed the medical narrative that started with “Symptoms” and ended in “Recovery,” hoping to “recover” illness from “Cure.” My version resisted order, or could

    Read more