Monday, November 3, 2008

John Edgar Wideman

Most people who know me know I love basketball. In honor of the recent NBA regular season tip-off, I wanted to introduce readers to John Edgar Wideman. Mr. Wideman, a controversial writer, has some interesting pieces on basketball and was a former All-Ivy League forward for U of Penn. His daughter, Jamila Wideman, played in the WNBA (thanks to former Stanford star Heather Owen for giving me the heads-up on this familial connection). Here is one paragraph from an interview with Mr. Wideman, where he weaves basketball within the larger context of life:

[B]asketball and other contact sports are all about testing, pushing, within arbitrary frameworks. They are all about physicality. So it was very natural to me. I trust the body. I trust pleasure. I trust pain. You can muck around with those a little, but after a while they win. They tell you they're the boss.

Here is my favorite paragraph from Wideman:

Well, if something terrible happens, you've got to do something about it. Your choice is either to be crushed by it or to carry on. That's a choice all the time. At this point today, and in my work so far, I have tried to suggest that it is worth carrying on. That's in fact what I am doing. I think the best thing and the worst thing about life is that you don't know what is going to happen. The best thing and the worst.

Wideman's most popular basketball book is Hoop Roots: Basketball, Race, and Love. I have not read it but hope to start it one day--right now, I am still working through Pat Conroy's delightful book, My Losing Season.

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