James Murphy's Reviews > Take Time for Paradise: Americans and Their Games

Take Time for Paradise by A. Bartlett Giamatti
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's review
Apr 15, 2012

it was amazing
Read in April, 2012

A. Bartlett Giamatti writes poetically, philosophically, and eloquently about games and leisure and about their meaning to Americans. He's not a sports writer. He's a classicist. So he sees leisure linked to Aristotle as well as to the sacred as in holiday or holy day. All sport becomes ceremony. Since sport is conducted in stadiums, because the intense emotion is about winning or losing through ceremony and ritual, the joy of the gods is brought back when people gather. In every sport, ritual is enacted. In that same way, sport perpetuates community by bringing together groups of people so that elements of our necessary rituals, including winning and losing, can be performed.

The 3d essay, "Baseball as Narrative," is so beautiful it'll break your heart if you love baseball. He sees baseball in Homeric terms, each game a tale of quest and homecoming, each game played on a geometric grid of circles, squares, and rectangles, and each game involving specific tasks and challenges centered around the idea of leaving and coming home. It's a story of how we find our origins. Confined within boundaries and patterns which constrain the rhythms of play and passion, the game allows us the joy of accomplishment and helps us realize freedom in the fulfillment of a complex order. Baseball is a retelling of the same story and is a refinement of the fable we live over and over. Just as each game is made up of a ritualistic repetition of pitches and outs ordered by a numbering system centered on 3 and 4, each game in itself is a repetition of the story we never tire of reliving.

It's a paean to baseball. I have a volume of poems about baseball which I love and have read many times. But none of the poems in it compare to Bartlett's magical, elegant explanation of the deeper philosophical connotations of baseball and what it really means to us.
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message 1: by Teresa (new)

Teresa "... none of the poems in it compare to Bartlett's magical, elegant explanation ..."

That says a lot about his writing then!

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