Though it’s long been known as the gentleman’s sport, tennis seems to be slipping a little bit in its cultural refinement. Melville House has a blog post on the reading habits of elite players, and they’re spotty at best, though Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche and Camus are all mentioned, as are J.K. Rowling, Tolkien and, simply, “newspapers.”
I didn’t expect to find a Chinese poem more ornate than Su Hui’s palindromic, pre-oulipan “Xuanji Tu,” but apparently I underestimated myself. Here’s “Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den,” a 92-character poem by Yuen Ren Chao which relies on the tonal variations of a single sound (shi) to tell the story of a “lion addict” with a taste for big cats. For a really crazy experience, I recommend listening to the poem being read aloud.
New this week: How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball; I Am No One by Patrick Flanery; The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon; The Trap by Melanie Raabe; Absalom’s Daughters by Suzanne Feldman; The Dream Life of Astronauts by Patrick Ryan; and Angels of Detroit by Christopher Hebert.
Alas, the Tournament of Books is over for my bracket as it was revealed that the “Zombie Round” brought Against the Day and Absurdistan back into the competition. With my finalists now officially out of the competition my bracket is dead, and it looks like I’ll finish in the middle of the pack. Meanwhile, fresh off the Oprah selection shocker (more on that in my next post), I’m think The Road is a lock to win this thing.Book Chronicle has organized an award for litblogs. In my post about book blogs being snubbed by the major blog awards, I argued that book blogs didn’t need to recognized in this way to legitimize them. Still, I do appreciate Book Chronicle nominating The Millions for their award.Harry Potter obsessives can now have a look at the cover for the final book in the series.The Paris Review has given its $10,000 Plimpton Prize for Fiction to Benjamin Percy, for his story “Refresh, Refresh,” which is excerpted on magazine’s Web site.Tom Bissell reviews Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close at Wet Asphalt.