Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Marshall Jon Fisher publishes book on
"the greatest tennis match ever played"

upstreet number one poet Marshall Jon Fisher (“Cannibals”) has published A Terrible Splendor (Crown/Random House, 2009), an account of the 1937 match between the world’s No. 1 tennis player, American Don Budge, and No. 2, the German Baron Gottfried von Cramm. In this last match of the Davis Cup semifinal, held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, more was at stake than national pride and a tennis trophy. That day, as the swastika, the Union Jack, and the Stars and Stripes flew together over Wimbledon’s Centre Court, 22-year-old Budge was on his way to becoming a superstar, and 28-year-old von Cramm, who had refused to join the Nazi party, feared he was on his way to prison—or worse. This story of the gripping five-set contest between the world’s top two tennis players on the eve of World War II has been widely reviewed; here is a sample—

The San Francisco Chronicle, April 19, 2009: Joel Drucker calls Splendor “enthralling,” “a gripping tale,” and writes, “Wedding the nuances of a sport to broader historical events is a challenge, but Fisher pulls the task off with supreme finesse, at once revealing the triumph and tragedy of a remarkable tennis match.”

The Washington Post, May 3, 2009: “Marshall Jon Fisher has gotten hold of some mighty themes: war and peace, love and death, sports and savagery. …As the match enters its final set, all the narrative pieces lock together, and A Terrible Splendor becomes as engrossing as the contest it portrays.”

Vanity Fair, May 2009 (”Hot Type” column): “For his smashing serve and spectacular rallies between sports history and political drama, game, set, and match go to Marshall Jon Fisher’s A Terrible Splendor.”

The New York Times Book Review, June 21, 2009: “Absorbing…puts readers at the edge of their seats…. [Fisher’s] nuanced portrait…shows how, with unflinching generosity, von Cramm stoically endured his tribulations.”

Marshall Jon Fisher played varsity tennis at Brandeis University and has worked as a sportswriter in Miami and a tennis pro in Munich. He holds an M.A. in English from City College of New York. A freelance writer and editor, he has written for The Atlantic Monthly on topics ranging from wooden tennis racquets to Internet fraud, and his work has also appeared in Harper’s, Discover, DoubleTake, and other publications, including Best American Essays 2003. His book The Ozone Layer (Chelsea House, 1992) was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the best books of 1993 for teenagers. His book (with his father, David E. Fisher) Tube: the Invention of Television was published by Counterpoint in 1996 and in paperback by Harcourt Brace in 1997. Their second book together, Strangers in the Night: a Brief History of Life on Other Worlds (Counterpoint, 1998), was selected by the New York Public Library as one of the twenty-five Books to Remember of 1998.

Marshall lives in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts with his wife, Mileta Roe (a professor of Spanish and comparative literature at Bard College at Simon’s Rock), and their two sons, Satchel and Bram. For more about A Terrible Splendor and its author, visit his website.

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