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Why do we love sports? Is it the thrill of victory? Or is it really the infinitesimal moments of sacrifice that make these victories all the more thrilling? Chen’s novel-in-vignettes not only makes the argument that we’re suckers for suffering, but that our very narratives of success have become meaningless without masochism. Her protagonist Athena Chen is struggling to write her American Studies dissertation on competitive sports. Once a promising student in her program, Athena enters her seventh year of grad school only to learn that her ex-boyfriend has killed himself. A former Olympic hopeful, now mired in depression, Athena cannot put together an argument, and instead curates story after story of athletic triumph, each invigorating on its own, but all together, create a chilling effect that numbs the vicarious joie de vivre that makes such stories so addictive in the first place. If you’ve ever wondered what lies on the other side of incredible achievement, this is the book for you.— From Lillian