John Clarke, Australia's best-loved comedian, the inventor of farnarkling and comic genius behind ABC television's The Games, is there to report on everything of interest. This is a funny, strange and beguiling book in which, game by game and match by match, the world's most creative players put their tennis skills to the ultimate test. A brilliant, bizarre comic novel.
"Imagine, if you will, 128 of recent history's greatest writers, thinkers, scientists, musicians, actors, etc., participating in a two-week tennis tournament. Sarah Bernhardt versus Coco Chanel; Aldous Huxley versus Paul Robeson; Vladimir Nabokov versus Henry Miller--matchups that seem wildly inappropriate and delightfully perverse. Norman Mailer is covering the tournament for Tennis magazine; the tournament referee is Charles Darwin. It's a wacky idea, and although it's mostly played for laughs, the author has somehow managed to make this preposterous premise pay off. The novel, which is structured like a day-by-day report on the progress of the tournament, is completely original, a crash course in the history of twentieth-century culture. The dialogue is cheerfully nutty, as most of the characters speak lines that parody themselves (Gertrude Stein: "A win is a win is a win"). This is one of those novels that shouldn't work and yet somehow it does, leaving us shaking with laughter and possessing a vivid sense of the competition between ideas and points of view that shapes our culture." David Pitt, Booklist