Author Archives: Miles Wray

About Miles Wray

Miles Wray lives in Seattle and writes a recurring column for McSweeney's Internet Tendency called Reviews of Self-Help Books by Professional Athletes. He is an assistant editor for the online literary journal Spartan (spartanlit.com).

The Unbearable Lightness of Being a Great Tennis Player: Looking Back at Foster Wallace on Federer

Under Review: “Federer as Religious Experience,” article by David Foster Wallace for New York Times, August 20, 2006. Collected in Both Flesh and Not: Essays (Little, Brown and Company, 2012, 336 pages). On July 6th, Swiss tennis player Roger Federer … Continue reading

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Sports in Utopia: On The Grasshopper by Bernard Suits

Under Review: The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia by Bernard Suits (University of Toronto Press, 1978, 178 pages) Just as an enthusiastic reader can make their way through a lifetime of books without ever once consulting a single text on … Continue reading

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The Self-Publisher Who Changed the World of Baseball: On Fool’s Gold by Bill James

Under review: Solid Fool’s Gold: Detours on the Way to Conventional Wisdom by Bill James (2011, ACTA Publications, 224 pages) Whenever I think of Bill James I think of the following Margaret Mead quote, which probably appeared on the walls … Continue reading

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Believe in the Gimmicks: On The Squared Circle and the World of Professional Wrestling

Under Review: The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling by David Shoemaker (2013, Gotham Books, 400 pages)  I was caught quite off guard last month when my Twitter feed—usually the domain of snarky chatter about baseball, basketball, and football—was suddenly … Continue reading

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Mess With the Horns: A.L. Kennedy’s On Bullfighting

Under Review: On Bullfighting by A.L. Kennedy (2001, Anchor Books, 176 pages) Scottish novelist A.L. Kennedy’s exploration of Spain’s matador culture begins, jarringly, with the author in earnest contemplation of her own suicide. Fortunately she backs off the ledge. But … Continue reading

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Competing With Your Muse: On Stephen Amidon’s Something Like the Gods

Under Review: Something Like the Gods: A Cultural History of the Athlete from Achilles to LeBron by Stephen Amidon (2012, Rodale, 240 pages) Sports, much like the arts, are only as vitally useful—or frivolously useless—as the beholder deems them. Neither … Continue reading

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Grant Boxing Your Favor: On Joyce Carol Oates’ On Boxing

Under Review: On Boxing by Joyce Carol Oates (2006, Harper Perennial, 271 pages)  It’s an awesome and unlikely image: Joyce Carol Oates, the gaunt and whispery living legend of fiction, eagerly and appreciatively watching Mike Tyson—yes, that Mike Tyson—spar and grunt his … Continue reading

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Create Your Own Mythology: On Usain Bolt’s 9.58

Under review: 9.58: Being the World’s Fastest Man, by Usain Bolt with Shaun Custis (2010, HarperSport, 287 pages) As the Sochi Winter Olympic Games lurch to a close, it’s instructional to remember that, for Summer Olympians, the past two weeks … Continue reading

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Publication Starts the Story: On Jim Bouton’s Ball Four

Under review: Ball Four: Twentieth Anniversary Edition by Jim Bouton (465 pages, 1990, Wiley Publishing) A memoir’s publication date usually serves as a finish line. The events within have already taken place well, well in the past; their cathartic release tends … Continue reading

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Memoir as Weapon: On Keyshawn Johnson’s Just Give Me the Damn Ball!

Under Review: Just Give Me the Damn Ball!: The Fast Times and Hard Knocks of an NFL Rookie by Keyshawn Johnson with Shelley Smith (1997, Warner Books, 216 pages) The Sports Memoir: Choose Your Own Adventure There’s something inherently cathartic … Continue reading

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