• print • June/July/Aug 2022

    A Bloop and a Blast

    SEVERAL YEARS AGO, while visiting my parents’ house, I found an artifact of my tortured early years of baseball fandom. It was a journal I was assigned to keep at the beginning of first grade, a stretch of time in the autumn of 1993 that coincided with a thrillingly unexpected Philadelphia Phillies postseason run. “I like the Phillies,” I wrote on October 8—a rather bold statement, given that the Greg Maddux–led Atlanta Braves had clobbered them 14–3 in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series the night before. I added several small crayon illustrations, as if placing my modest offerings

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Different Strokes

    I WAS EIGHT THAT YEAR. The Indian cricket team won an unlikely victory against the West Indies during their Caribbean tour in 1971. I discovered this from the color photographs in the Illustrated Weekly of India—a young Sunil Gavaskar, his sleeves rolled up, holding his bat aloft after stylishly driving through the covers. The red cricket ball shone like a cherry on the lush green outfield. The whites worn by the cricketers, the wooden bats with their straight lines and subtle curves, the dark borders on Gavaskar’s sweater. I cut out those pictures and made my first scrapbook. Which is all to

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    More Than a Game

    RENÉE RICHARDS, eighty-seven, has admitted she has some regrets. Among them is that she never pitched for the New York Yankees, a job MLB scouts once seemed to think she had a real shot at.

    Her contributions to the sports landscape, though, ended up being far greater than a few years in pinstripes. Had she played for the Yankees, she might never have had a sex change (her preferred term). Had she never had a sex change, she never would’ve had to fight tennis officials for a spot in the women’s draw of the 1977 US Open.

    In Richards’s two autobiographies, Second Serve and No Way Renée, published

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    When the Shirt Hit the Fans

    THE BALL SLINGS INTO THE NET, and by the time the camera pans back to Brandi Chastain, she has whipped off her shirt and is twirling it in the air above her head. Then she drops to her knees. For about six seconds, she is alone with her accomplishment. That’s the time it takes for her teammates to run to her from the center line, engulfing her in a raucous, cheering group hug. Chastain had won the 1999 Women’s World Cup—only the third ever such tournament—for the United States, on a penalty kick. 

    In the video of Chastain from this moment, her joy has an almost blinding force. Satisfaction,

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  • print • June/July/Aug 2022

    Knight Vision

    RUSSIA’S INVASION OF UKRAINE has been a boon for American oil and gas companies, Russian bond traders at Goldman Sachs, and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov. The former world champion and staunch critic of Putin has become a regular guest on prime-time cable news slots. He’s penned op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune. His 2015 book, Winter Is Coming, which predicted that Putin would invade Ukraine beyond its eastern regions, has rocketed to the top of Amazon’s charts and journalists’ recommended-reading lists. Kasparov is quoted by the press as though he were an oracle.

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  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • 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

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  • review • April 26, 2022

    A Story of Supernatural Kindness

    In 1994, poet Fanny Howe was travelling in the UK and working intermittently. She spun this experience into London-rose, a poetic and philosophic meditation on alienation, labor, and everyday life. The book is being published for the first time this month by Semiotext(e). Below is a brief dispatch from her journey. —The Editors  

    Been on the road for days—Hull, Sheffield, here—visiting liaison people, long drives through mottled Yorkshire snowing. One action follows or leads to another, always ending in the smelly cold B&Bs, now in Sheffield, caught in traffic for three hours at night. Over

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