So Many Olympic Exertions (Paperback)

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So Many Olympic Exertions (Paperback)


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Staff Reviews

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

Blending elements of memoir and sports writing, Anelise Chen's debut novel is an experimental work that perhaps most resembles what the ancient Greeks called hyponemata, or "notes to the self," in the form of observations, reminders and self-exhortations. Taken together, these notes constitute a personal handbook on "how to live"--or perhaps more urgently "why to live," a question the narrator, graduate student Athena Chen, desperately needs answering. When Chen hears news that her brilliant friend from college has committed suicide, she is thrown into a fugue of fear and doubt. Through anecdotes and close readings of moments in the sometimes harrowing world of sports, the novel questions the validity of our current narratives of success.

Anelise Chen earned her BA in English from UC Berkeley and her MFA in Fiction from NYU. Her fiction, essays and interviews have appeared in The New York Times, Gawker, NPR and elsewhere. She currently teaches writing at Columbia University.
Product Details ISBN: 9781885030351
ISBN-10: 1885030355
Publisher: Kaya Press
Publication Date: June 27th, 2017
Pages: 200
Language: English