How Reading John McPhee’s Book on Tennis Helped Me Write About Skateboarding | Literary Hub

To assist my operation, I sought out books about sports with which I wasn’t as intimately familiar as skateboarding. I read some of Roger Angell’s work on baseball, and Joyce Carol Oates’s On Boxing, but I found the most useful instruction in John McPhee’s 1969 book Levels of the Game, a play-by-play report on a single tennis match between Arthur Ashe and Clark Graebner that doubles as a dual profile of both athletes. What made McPhee’s book the perfect learning text is 1) I don’t know a lot about tennis, and 2) a narrative of a game means that McPhee would have to describe, at length, the mechanics of the players’ movements. Could McPhee communicate the complexities of tennis to a non-expert? Could he do what I hoped to do? Continue reading…

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