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William Ambler


Great Authors Interpret the Olympics

Posted: 07/25/2012 4:23 pm

The London Summer Olympics will kick off on July 27 and run through August 12.

This raises a number of obvious questions: how many human interest stories will the network run about an Olympian overcoming the death of their favorite hamster or some such to become the best (insert event here)? Answer: approximately 14,000.

Will James Bond really parachute into the Opening Ceremonies? Answer: of course he will. He's James Freaking Bond.

Will inclement weather interfere with any of the events? London is located in England. So yes.

Here's a question you may not have asked yourself: what would it sound like if some of history's most prominent authors were enjoined to add their commentary to the games?

Lucky for you, we've taken it upon ourselves to ask AND answer that question.

You can see the results in the pages that follow.

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  • Rowing: Herman Melville

    "And on and on the wild and wanton craft burst across the silvered depths and strain to be first upon their mark. The oars scream in their wells as they cleave the glassy surface, leaving whirls of creamy spray like tufts of smoke lifted from a wheeling flock as it makes haste from a conflagration. All for the coin! The great golden coin promised them by their master, who even now crouches upon the gunwales and rends the air above their crowns with bellowed slogan and epithet!!"

  • Basketball: Robert E Howard

    "Lebron perches athwart the apex of the key and surveys his foes from beneath a furrowed brow. Five swarthy brigands hailing from the land where once Caesars counted coin in marbled halls mill before him. He drives his weapon to the floor and in a flash he is among them, mighty thews straining, slicing toward his goal with a panther-like quickness that belies his muscled bulk."

  • Women's Pole Vault: Jane Austen

    "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman, having assiduously trained through the high school and collegiate ranks, and having endured the deprivations both societal and dietary attendant upon such efforts, must be in want of a medal. However little known the feelings or views of such a woman may be upon her first entering the arena, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the populace that she is considered the rightful inheritor of a Wheaties box or Gatorade commercial, provided her aspect is deemed pleasing by the eligible young men of Madison Avenue."

  • Marathon: Marcel Proust

    "It is my deep wish to convey to you, the viewer, the actualities of these athletes, the artful nature of their forms, the purity of intent with which they piston limbs to the earth and defy immobility; and yet it is this very combination of form and action that casts me out of the vicissitudes and mundanities of this life, and once again Swann rises before me and follows his shadow down across the hedges..." Proust finishes his reverie and announces the winner seventeen hours and forty-two minutes after the conclusion of the race.

  • Men's High Jump: Stephen King

    "As Jeff Marshal prepares for his second attempt at 2.40 meters, I can only assume he's thinking back to his grandfather Olson's words. 'Sooner or later, the gloaming comes for us all, boy', he'd pronounce around a mouthful of chaw, pausing occasionally to spit into a Maxwell House can on those long July afternoons in northern Maine. Marshal uses the Folsbury Flop, or Foolbry Dop as he and his wife know it in the secret language they share. It's the kind of language that seeps up through the cracks of a contented marriage over those long nights around the kitchen table, when the bills are piled higher than what's left to pay 'em and all you got is each other. 'Sooner or later, the gloaming comes for us all, boy.'"

  • Fencing: Jorge Luis Borges

    "It is essential for me to note that the drama being enacted before us is of very little importance. Of even less importance are the issues that the participants have determined can only be resolved through conflict. In matters such as these it is impossible to determine causes and effects. Nevertheless, a gaucho and a cowboy take their places upon lines which stretch into infinity. They begin to move, and the patterns emerge."

  • Tennis: David Foster Wallace

    "The official program lists Rafael Nadal at 6' 1" and 190 pounds (footnote 1). In person he reads closer to 6'3" and he's so compact and centered (footnote 2) that he's kind of totally scary and unapproachable. His weight always seems to be moving forward and it lends him a weird intensity even when he's being completely affectless and relaxed., which is what he's doing right now (footnote 3). But so like anyway these are clearly very much my issues and not at all germane w/r/t all anyone really cares about: what is it like to watch Rafael Nadal play tennis? Watching Rafael Nadal play (footnote 4) is exhilarating in a way that is also deeply sad."

  • 100 Meter Dash: James Joyce

    "..there they were all in a row and fingers splayed and then haunches raised and bang yer off with wind at your back with the screams and the faces melding as the feet so many feet stamping out the time yes with seconds ticking down thought their fractions and the tape rippling like the presents in that little house left in the night yes and the breath comes faster like horses charging yes and a reaching for the last yes yes I won Yes."

  • Synchronized Swimming: H P Lovecraft

    "They rise from the stygian depths with rictus maws. Arrayed within each we spy a necropolis of alabaster tombs. Limbs terrible to behold contort beyond the bounds of sanity into strange and unknowable geometries. Eyes absorb light into a vast darkness that rings with the ghastly notes of the Piper, calling us to a fate beyond death- beyond REASON!! "There...at the judges table! A hand! And yet not a hand! I must...I cannot..."