Novelist and NPR sports pundit Littlefield (Keepers: Radio Stories from Only a Game and Elsewhere, p. 950) has the pleasant...



Novelist and NPR sports pundit Littlefield (Keepers: Radio Stories from Only a Game and Elsewhere, p. 950) has the pleasant task of sorting out the best from the sporting press in this eighth annual compilation. The great thing about sportswriting is that there is a drama every day, self-contained and with a relatively neat ending, but also an ongoing story that stretches for weeks, months, years. As this annual collection reminds us, the best writers are the ones who can take the long and short views simultaneously, guys like Charles P. Pierce. One of the great pleasures of the late, lamented National, Pierce went on to magazine writing and is well-represented by two formidable articles in this collection, ""The Man. Amen,"" a profile of the overcovered Tiger Woods (there are even two of those pieces here) and an amusingly atmospheric article on Big Game college football gatherings. Littlefield and series editor Glenn Stout have leaned rather heavily on magazine think pieces for this year's volume, and a bit too much on the tired clichÆ’s of first-person New Journalism. At its worst, the subgenre is represented by Tony Hendra's smarmy and unfunny piece on not getting to meet a female bullfighter (""Blonde and Sand"") and Rick Telander's predictable plaint about his own fading athletic powers (""Over the Hill, My Ass!""). J.H. Moehringer's story of discovering a boxing semi-legend in the twilight world of the homeless (""Resurrecting the Champ"") is somewhat more satisfying, an essay that swings between self-conscious literariness and genuine emotion. The best offerings in this volume are still the ones that partake of the more conventional and traditional literary and journalistic virtues, pieces that often come from familiar names like Thomas Boswell and David Remnick. But the best contribution of all may very well be Littlefield's introduction, a carefully considered rumination on the art of sportswriting and the appeal of our games. Despite the unevenness of this volume, a must for any sports fan.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998


Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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