Writing On Literature

  • “If you wish to converse with me,” said Voltaire, “define your terms.” A definition of terms is the boring, necessary foundation to any philosophical debate, and is equally relevant to appreciating this book. In the title the publishers have chosen to pick out “win” in Knowing the Score, but David Papineau, a professor of the philosophy of science, isn’t offering a new and unlikely marginal gain in the quest for sporting victory. Nor is his book an ambitious attempt to mesh the universal cogs of theoretical philosophy and sport..." This book review was in the Times on April 22 and the full text is available here, possibly behind the paywall unless you never look at the Times, in which case you

    May 03,
  • I have a piece in the March 2012 issue of Prospect magazine, on the Jerusalem Marathon. Here’s one I did last month, on squash (Feb 2012): For sports with Olympic status, London 2012 is the golden ticket. Now is the opportunity to increase profile, participation and commercial partnerships. A medal or a notable contender, even a memorable cock-up (no-one forgets Olympian Eddie the Eagle) may establish a sport in the public mind for years to come. Spare a thought, then, for the game of squash. After failing to join the Olympic family in each of the last two bidding rounds, squash will remain untouched by 2012 stardust. ‘It’s really disappointing not to be part of the countdown,’ says Laura Massaro, National

    Mar 10,
  • I have a piece in the Feb 2012 issue of Prospect magazine, on squash. Here's one I did last year, on wrestling (August 2011): By the end of this July’s ‘second chance sale’, over three and a half million tickets had been sold for the 26 sports making up the London 2012 Olympics. There were seats unsold for football and volleyball, but the only individual discipline with tickets left over was freestyle wrestling. In the competition for least-loved Olympic sport in Britain, freestyle wrestling was the winner. What is it, exactly, that no-one is in a rush to see? Freestyle wrestling differs from all-male Greco-Roman wrestling (sold-out) in three ways. Holds below the waist are allowed, the legs may be used

    Jan 23,
  • Over on our site in development (wait for it, wait for it), we had an interesting discussion about Scrabble and this year's British National Champion, the fantastic Mikki Nicholson. In principle, I like all games until my children start winning. And until recently I was a big fan of Scrabble. So much so that on my shelves I have a copy of Word Freak, by Stefan Fatsis. I have this book partly because The Times claims that 'Stefan Fatsis is the Hunter S. Thompson of Competitive Scrabble', but also because the book was published by Yellow Jersey Press in the days (2001) when Yellow Jersey published brilliant sports books no-one else would touch. The story follows US sports-writer Fatsis as

    Nov 04,
  • The Open this year is at St Andrew's, and golf has the same problems as always.  Everyone is walking in the same direction (pretty much - these are professionals, after all) and every player refuses to share their ball.  This is not head-to-head sport for those of us who like a bit of direct to-ing and fr0-ing, the pitting of one player against another. What golf neds is the equivalent of T20 cricket, and I have the answer. The admin people at the R & A should stand on the first tee (if I remember correctly) and look over the North  Sea to Holland.  At the same time they should squint until the past comes into view: the future can

    Jul 13,