To The Basketball Playing Men and Women of Letters

To The Basketball Playing Men and Women of Letters
A young writer has existential moment during workout: Where is the ball?

I recently read a fanciful article in which a literary East/West  all-star basketball game is imagined and scouted. Dave Eggers and Stephen Elliott are the starting back court for the West. Ben Marcus is cast as the starting center for the East not on the grounds of basketball skill but because, according to the writer, he looks like Žydrūnas Ilgauskas. Other than myself, Sherman Alexie, and the above mentioned, the writer doesn’t seem to know any actual ball playing authors.

On the East you could have Jonathan Ames at shooting guard, once he shakes off the rust. For the point position, we could inquire as to weather Wesley Yang has some game. We could have Leonard Michaels – Godfather of the angry New York Jewish writers taking out the day’s frustrations on the court and bragging about it in print – on our jerseys. Marv Albert could call the game. (Is it absurd to state that Marv Albert has a certain literary quality to his announcing style? Or am I just conflating a slight New York City edge with literary? And is this a valid conflation? Howard Cosell also seems literary. His sense of the absurd was literary.)

Where are all the ball playing New York writers? To my chagrin they are probably playing softball.

I have always wished there was a basketball version of the softball teams that all the literary magazines put forth every summer. A three on three version of Paris Review and The New Yorker, etc. Those summer softball pastorals are very nice, I’m told, but, in basketball parlance, softball is weak! And New York is a basketball town. Surely there are some writers who are athletes, too. My fantasy is for a 1,000 dollar buy-in charity league that plays a tournament at the end of the season, winner take all. Proceeds go to the charity of the winner’s choice. Given that many of the league’s publications would be 501c’s, this would be an excellent fund-raising opportunity for small presses. A Hunger Games for non-profits. Random House, Tin House, everyone could have a team. The only criterion to play, as with softball, would be an affiliation with the magazine or publisher.

Please volunteer your organization!

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