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Games People Play

Issue #43, Spring 2010

Games, play, and sport are intricately connected to creation and art. Formal challenges, whether by the French Oulipo movement or the Surrealists with their Exquisite Corpses have yielded surprising and deeply moving literary works. The parallels between sport and art and life itself are many—heroes, drama, reversals, betrayals, irrational loyalties, heartbreak, euphoria. In this issue we examine these intersections, from Lord Whimsy's explanation of cricket and Karen Russell's rules of Antarctic tailgating to Martha McPhee's stunning fictional take on bond trading as blood sport; from Blake Eskin's time immersed in a German board game convention to David Mamet's argument that theater itself is a sport. In the end, it isn't about the destination, but the journey; not the game itself, but how you play it. Jawaharlal Nehru said, "Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play it is free will." Enjoy.

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Martha McPhee

EXCERPT FROM Dear Money I wanted one thing. I wanted to win.

Jennifer Egan

OUT OF BODY • No one will fight with you now--the fact that you hacked open your wrists with a box cutter seems to be a deterrent.

Steve Almond

EXCERPT FROM Keane at Midnight She was mentally impaired or slightly epileptic maybe, which was a pity. Could he fuck an epileptic?

Seth Fried

LIFE IN THE HAREM • Before I was appointed to the harem, I had only seen one woman in the nude.

Ron Carlson

ESCAPE FROM PRISON • I took two hundred and thirty-seven thousand dollars from the idle accounts of two of my clients.

Geoff Wyss

HOW TO BE A WINNER • The first thing is, it takes guts. Let me hear you say it! Guts!

Matthew Zapruder

THIS LITTLE GAME

Joseph Fasano

BUCK SEASON
FRAGMENTS

A Tin House Exquisite Corpse

Mary jo Bang, Nick Flynn, Alex Lemon, Matthea Harvey, Eileen Myles, and D. A. Powell
Sure, it's a little game. You, me, our minds.

Kirsten Andersen

THE WEIGH-IN

David Shields

THE SADNESS OF THE YANKEE FAN

Heather Desurvire

Only in Southern California could you find a job that pays you to play video games. Tin House contributing editor, Rachel Resnick, kicks back with this

Lord Whimsy

THE IMMUTABLE LAWS OF CRICKET •
An illustrated crash course to one of the world's most baffling sports.

David Mamet

HUNTING INSTINCTS •
We're always reading for the thrill of the chase, the exhiliration of tracking narrative big game.

Henry Alford

FUN IS WHAT •
A night of Victorian parlor games goes ass up. Was it the extra round of

Tom Bissell

GRAND THEFTS •
An addiction to video games--and cocaine--leads the writer to the deeper morality of modern gaming.

Michelle Wildgen

SHEEPSHEAD •
This Midwestern card game will trump the uninitiated with its bewildering lingo.

Blake Eskin

THE SERIOUSLY FUN WORLD OF GERMAN BOARD GAMES •
Sure, it sounds religious--

Michael Agovino

TOTAL, UTTER MADNESS: A STORY OF SOCCER •
Confused by the sport the rest of the world follows fanatically? Do you have to be told when a soccer player does something good? Look no further.

Christopher R. Beha

ON DON DELILLO'S End Zone Football becomes a metaphor for the threat of nuclear war. Hilarity ensues.

Bonnie B. Lee

ON EDWARD SNOW'S Inside Bruegel Children's games illustrate the importance of play.

Joel Drucker

ON BILL TILDEN'S Match Play and the Spin of the Ball He dominated tennis for years and later served up one of the sport's best tactical guides.

Irina Reyn

ON JEROME CHARYN'S Sizzling Chops and Devilish Spins
Paddling in the current of Ping-Pong passion.

Dan Oswalt

ON CHARLES COTTON'S The Compleat Gamester This seventeenth-century gambler's opus is a charming exhumation of dead games.

Tony Perez

ON DAVID HALBERSTAM'S The Breaks of the Game If only the Portland Trail Blazers' misfortune were a thing of the past, instead of being also a thing of the past.