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Publisher's Summary

David Foster Wallace's extraordinary writing on tennis, collected for the first time in an exclusive audio-original edition.

A "long-time rabid fan of tennis" and a regionally ranked tennis player in his youth, David Foster Wallace wrote about the game like no one else. On Tennis presents David Foster Wallace's five essays on the sport, published between 1990 and 2006, which have been hailed as some of the greatest and most innovative sports writing of our time.

This lively and entertaining collection begins with Wallace's own experience as a prodigious tennis player ("Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley"). He also challenges the sports memoir genre ("How Tracy Austen Broke My Heart"), takes us to the US Open ("Democracy and Commerce at the U.S. Open"), and profiles two of the world's greatest tennis players ("Tennis Player Michael Joyce's Professional Artistry as a Paradigm of Certain Stuff About Choice, Freedom, Limitation, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness" and "Federer Both Flesh and Not"). With infectious enthusiasm and enormous heart, Wallace's writing shows us the beauty, complexity, and brilliance of the game he loved best.

©2014 David Foster Wallace (P)2014 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about On Tennis

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Inspiration, though, is contagious, and multiform

One of the benefits of this book is it allowed me to read some of my favorite David Foster Wallace essays (on Tennis) and introduced me to several I had somehow missed. This small collection (138 pages) contains the following essays:

1. Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley - aka "Tennis, Trigonometry, Tornados: A Midwestern Boyhood" in Harpers (December 1991)
2.How Tracy Austin Broke my Heart - Originally Published in Consider the Lobster and Other Essays
3. Tennis Player Michael Joyce's Professional Artistry as a Paradigm of Certain Stuff About Choice, Freedom, Limitation, Joy, Grotesquerie, and Human Completeness - AKA "The String Theory" in Esquire (Sep 17, 2008)
4. Democracy and Commerce at the U.S. Open - Tennis Magazine (September 1996)
5. Federer Both Flesh and Nott - AKA "Roger Federer as Religious Experience" in New York Times, (August 20, 1996)

Anyway, I still love DFW. And loved rereading most of them and am still amazed at DFW's ability to infuse his writing with passion, maths, and somehow translate the kinetic beauty of Tennis specifically, but sports also into the written word. I hate to overplay it, but sometimes I feel the same way with DFW talking about Tennis as I felt when I read Tolstoy talking about God or Melville or Conrad about the Sea. His writing at moments when he is talking about trigonometry, athletic achievement, and velocity, becomes both flesh and light. One of my favorite lines, I think it may have been from the second essay about Tracy Austin, he talks about Michael Jordan "hanging in midair like a Chagall bride". Perfect.

16 people found this helpful

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A must have for tennis enthusiasts

David Wallace was a master of his trade. I will venture that practically anyone will enjoy this book of five essays. I've read through it multiple times now and it's always entertaining. If you like tennis you will surely find this book to be a favorite. If you ever picked up "Infinite Jest" and weren't enthralled (as some of his fans are) don't worry, this is well written nonfiction essays, and it's a very engaging read.

1 person found this helpful

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A great writer at his best

One of America's greatest, a fine tennis player as a young man whose prose and observations make this among the best sports books of American literature. Not since Halberstam's The Amateurs has a short book so beautifully illuminated a sport that it actually transcends sport itself. Wallace never intended these articles to be accumulated in an audiobook, but we are all the better for the efforts of Hatchette Book Group.

1 person found this helpful

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For the love of tennis

David Foster Wallace's genuine love for tennis comes through during every essay in this book.

It is refreshing to listen to someone who truly loves and appreciates an activity as much as David does with tennis.

What makes this book exceptional is the inspiration you can get when you go "all in" with something in life.

David played tennis, watched tennis, followed tennis, wrote about tennis and philosophized about tennis.

My take away from this book is to focus on the activities in my life I love and develop mastery with them, but have a sense of realism about my abilities.

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Why Tennis?

Because the experience delivered by a master of the written word when describing a deeply loved anything, will bathe you in a flow of truth.

Even if you have never played, or even seen a tennis match, this ride is well worth the price of a ticket.

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This Guy Can Write

I had never heard of this author before and found while looking for a book on tennis. This is a collection of articles he wrote. Each stands on their own but all are worth a read. This guy was a master at prose.

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Anna

If there wasn’t music well past the introduction and into the actual story, I’d give a better review. The music is extremely annoying.

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not really on tennis at all

The first chapter is primarily a tedious description of weather conditions in the author’s hometown and, tangentially, how the wind there on occasion affected his tennis game. The second chapter is an even more tedious “take-down” of a Tracy Austin autobiography, an essay that was probably once thought to be “brutal” and to deliver a real comeuppance, but that now is boring and trite. The third chapter is an interminable description mostly of qualifying play at a Montreal tournament in the mid-90s, marred by cheap shots at Andre Agassi of all people, and long-winded descriptions of minutiae such as the available concessions, and of long forgotten low ranked players of that time. The fourth chapter, ah, forget it.

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Pro Tennis in a nutshell

I was recommended this collection by a journalist friend after they learned of my extensive competitive tennis history. This text is such a true summation of multiple facets of the professional and semi-pro game and all beautifully, colorfully, written. Read it and understand and appreciate this poetic game in a new way.

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Wonderful tennis stories..

David Foster Wallace brings to life all the grace beauty and difficulty of tennis. He shares personal childhood experiences both high and low in this life transforming sport for him. He brings deep insight into the lives of professional players and delves into the inner recesses of the game familiar only to those who have deep experience with tennis. It is a fantastic voyage into the author's mind, and it is a pleasure to enjoy the rich tapestry he weaves with words about this wonderful sport of tennis.