Redux: Writers at Play



Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.



This week, we bring you J. D. McClatchy’s 2002 Writers at Work interview, Nancy Lemann’s short story “Sportsman’s Paradise,” and Mark Halliday’s poem “Ballplayer at Midnight.” 

J. D. McClatchy, The Art of Poetry No. 84
Issue no. 163 (Fall 2002)

I’ve always been happier in the locker room than on the playing field . . . and that puts a different spin on “sports,” doesn’t it? The idea of competition appeals to me. But focusing on a ball? All that gear, the injuries, the forced bravado and bonding, the cheerleaders, the lust for statistics . . . not for me, I fear. My parents were champion golfers, and early on pushed me toward the links. I had a natural swing, and might have been a good golfer. But, as you’d expect, I resisted their kind shove, and decided to try tennis—for which I had no aptitude whatever—and failed, as I had at chess. I’ve already said how thankful I remain that I went to schools where one didn’t have to prove oneself with a kneecap injury. Nowadays, my favorite solitary sport is the morning’s crossword puzzle, and my preferred contact sport—so much more grueling than football!—is gardening.



Sportsman’s Paradise
By Nancy Lemann
Issue no. 122 (Spring 1992)

April comes and April goes, and May, and June, all passing by without shedding a drop of rain. The sky has been a blue desert since spring. The sun rises every morning, a bright white disk growing larger and hotter each day. Cicadas drawl halfheartedly in the trees. The reservoir outside the village has shrunken into a bathtub for the boys, peeing at each other in the waist-deep water.



Ballplayer at Midnight
By Mark Halliday
Issue no. 84 (Summer 1982)

On the third floor
I urinate into a white bowl
hearing cars on Taber Avenue
rolling busy through the dull cold night

Down the hall Julie must be falling
asleep in her green peeling room
she is used to being alone I tell myself

I wash hands gingerly because
my right little finger
got scraped in a basketball game yesterday …


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