Consider the Tennis Player

David Foster “Consider the Lobster” Wallace has a typically thoughtful, discursive, and quirky piece in the NY Times’ excellent Play Magazine this weekend on the physics and metaphysics of tennis player Roger Federer. (Foster Wallace used to be a competitive college tennis player, and knows whereof he writes on this subject.)

Related posts:

  1. Roger Federer & Raising Your Game
  2. The “A-Player” Domino Effect
  3. Speaking of KP, Roger Rules
  4. Five Things to Know About Roger McNamee
  5. Ted Turner’s Cellular Strategy


  1. Coincidentally, I’m about 800 pages into Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest” — which means I only have another 200 or so to go :-)

  2. I struggle like crazy with DFW’s fiction, and generally enjoy his non-fiction. Matter of fact, his entire fiction oeuvre — Broom of the System; and Infinite Jest — remains in my incomplete stack.
    Mind you, I did enjoy a few of the short stories in DFW’s Girl with Curious Hair, so I have finished and liked some of his fiction. I just find his discursive, polymath-run-amok style exhausting in long fiction, where it’s much more fun in non-fiction.
    As synchronicity would have it, my two favorite DFW essays came out precisely a decade ago: “The String Theory”. Esquire. July, 1996; and “Shipping Out: On the (Nearly Lethal) Comforts of a Luxury Cruise”. Harper’s Magazine. January 1996.
    The former is also about tennis, while the latter is a wonderfully muscular bit of prose, with some of the best stuff Wallace has written. For example, there is a passage describing the Caribbean sunlight as being “exfoliating”, a metaphor that I have gleefully ripped from DFW a number of times. It also has a section about cruise ship toilets that still makes me nervous every time I enter an airline lavatory.

  3. I would definitely have to agree with the discursive, polymath part. I compared his writing style recently to a really good prog-rock band like Yes or Pink Floyd — excellent technique and amazing proficiency with the instruments and so forth, but also really loooooong guitar solos and songs that take half an hour. I think a teacher may have written “show your work” on one of Dave’s assignments at school, and he started applying it to everything.