BODY LANGUAGE by Gerald Early


Writers on Sport
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 For volume two of Graywolf's Forum series, editor Early (Daughters, 1994, etc.) called for personal essays about an encounter with a sport and what significance that encounter held for the writer. But the result is far from unified thematically, ranging unpersuasively in tone from the chatty to the sleepily studious. Early notes that the collection is ``about sports as an ironical cultural expression.'' And while he finds ``something inherently pagan and inherently pointless about them,'' few of the other writers make that call. In fact, essayist Phillip Lopate admits that for him sports offers an ``abstract enthrallment'' having little to do with the final score. Lopate follows sports for its ``novelistic attributes . . . the convergence of narrative, character and situation.'' In one of the more personal pieces, newcomer Teri Bostian writes of playing catch with her father and about pitching to her nonathletic boyfriend (should she show him up, or let him hit it?), relating the fist-fight her father arranged between her and a male cousin who'd been picking on her. In an otherwise bone-dry discourse, Washington University professor of English Wayne Fields notes that basketball has never held as much fascination for ``the cultural gurus'' as have baseball and ``the armored combat of football.'' This may be because basketball is ``an approachable sport, its underdressed competitors clearly human.'' The poet Vijay Seshardi echoes Early when he refers to his youthful ``pagan worship of baseball.'' Novelist Jonis Agee contributes an ill-focused piece on rodeo bull-riding (``2,000 pissed-off pounds of rock and roll meat.''), Michigan football, female fans, and her ``new obsession'' with stock car racing. Especially when compared with the Forum series' previous volume, this one seems brief (far fewer contributors), narrow (many are writing from a Midwestern perspective), and unambitious. Perhaps the writers needed something less generalized than ``sport'' to aim at.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-55597-262-4
Page count: 242pp
Publisher: Graywolf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1998


by Gerald Early
FictionBEST AFRICAN AMERICAN FICTION: 2009 by E. Lynn Harris
by E. Lynn Harris