In the introduction the editors write, “this book is for the losers—which is to say, for all of us.” They deliver.

LOSERS

DISPATCHES FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SCOREBOARD

Essays from the realm of competitive sports focusing on losing, which “reveals something raw about what it means to be human.”

A few of the bylines are well known, especially Gay Talese (his oft-anthologized 1964 Esquire profile of Floyd Patterson) and Arthur Conan Doyle (1908 Olympic marathon). Refreshingly, though, most of the contributors are less well known to general readers, and their subjects range from obscure to famous. Some of the essays were previously unpublished while others appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the Believer, and other venues. As a collection, the book holds together well even for non–sports fans, though some readers may wish for value-added material such as postscripts or updates. Pilon and Thomas, who both write for the New Yorker and other publications, each contribute an essay. In her piece for that magazine, Thomas focuses on the pressures of the professional tennis tour via a profile of Nick Kyrgios, the volatile Australian who cannot seem to reach his potential in front of tournament crowds. “At some point in every match,” she writes, “he tends to do something brilliant—or he snaps.” Pilon’s piece, published in 2013 in the Times, is set in the world of low-level mixed martial arts, “shadow fighting circuits” that are “far from the bright lights of professional matches.” For basketball fans, Charles Bock offers “The Sporting House,” about an ill-fated star in 1980s Las Vegas, a time when UNLV was the best show in town. Baseball fans will enjoy Bob Sullivan’s “Yankee Strike” and Abby Ellin’s “Larry and the Ball.” In “Banderillero,” Barry Newman writes about bullfighting, an endeavor relatively unknown to American readers. Mike Pesca investigates the many faces of losing and how many “come so close they can taste it, only to be left lapping at the dust of their rivals.”

In the introduction the editors write, “this book is for the losers—which is to say, for all of us.” They deliver.

Pub Date: Aug. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-14-313383-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich...

PERSIMMON WIND

A MARTIAL ARTIST'S JOURNEY IN JAPAN

A reflective and entertaining journey through Japan, as the author seeks to reconnect with his martial arts sensei.

Lowry is a student of koryu (not to be confused with kendo), a style of Japanese classical swordsmanship. Koryu is a medieval art, like Noh and the tea ceremony, a style of combat born on the battlefield–but more importantly, it’s a way to address the world (though an esoteric one: Lowry may well be the only American practicing the art in the United States). Indeed, present-day practitioners refrain from exercising its fatal possibilities. Lowry’s sensei left the U.S. to return to Japan, urging Lowry to follow. Though his life headed in a different direction, he never forgot his training–when the time was ripe, he journeyed to Japan to join his sensei. The narrative revolves around this pivotal decision, and it provides a warm center from which the author expounds on such topics as the glories of a Japanese bath; the evolution of the Samurai caste; the peculiarities of Japanese landscape architecture; the elements of proper sandal-tying; the custom of the premarital shenanigans called yobai; and the teachings of mikkyo Buddhism. He also includes the vital story of the sword–what it reveals about Japanese life and technology, social structure and aesthetic values, etiquette, apprenticeship and the process of education. Lowry’s seriousness lends an earnest cast to the proceedings, but he’s not without a sense of humor–commenting upon his accomplished slurping of noodles, a friend’s wife notes, “He really sucks!”

A broad and deep look at Japan’s medieval referents, and a capable illustration of a martial art form steeped in rich tradition.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2005

ISBN: 1-890536-10-5

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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A book that will help everyone feel good at the end of the sporting day.

THE RUDY IN YOU

A GUIDE TO BUILDING TEAMWORK, FAIR PLAY, AND GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP FOR YOUNG ATHLETES, PARENTS, AND COACHES

An uplifting guide to sportsmanship. The subtitle says it all.

Using the example of Ruettiger, whose experience as a Notre Dame football walk-on inspired the 1994 film, Rudy, the authors rail against disrespectful behavior in sports, at any level. They argue that kids, parents and coaches are part of a matrix that can either create a joyful youth sports environment, or a nasty stew of overweening pride, gross expectations and antisocial behavior. With an old school bluntness, they plainly state how participants should act: Kids should have a clear sense of what they want to do, develop strategies for achieving their goals, listen and learn, show respect to all, cultivate a strong work ethic, be positive and helpful and trustworthy, and finally, be patient. Parents should be involved, too, but should always "remember to be the adults. Let the kids be kids." This means not projecting your own aspirations onto your children, while encouraging self-esteem and confidence. Coaches must know their sport (even if they are only volunteers), exemplify personal excellence, challenge the kids, earn their trust, be open to feedback and get everyone involved. The authors’ straightforward advice may seem obvious, but Phillips, Leddy and Ruettiger go further, providing solid examples of how to put these principles into practice. And for all the character building, they also appreciate that kids just want to have fun.

A book that will help everyone feel good at the end of the sporting day.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2005

ISBN: 1-58348-764-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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