[UCP Books]: Playing in Time: Essays, Profiles, and Other True Stories
“Carlo Rotella shows us how much we’ve been missing in the years since he published his last book. In this collection of articles and essays about fencers, boxers, nightmares, Providence, and Jack Vance—to name a few—he displays a remarkable talent for piercing observations and deftly-turned phrases. Yet within the disciplined fireworks of his style, true mastery is displayed by a narrator whose insight into human shortcomings is matched by his empathy for them. No matter where Rotella goes, from a fighter’s corner in Norfolk, Virginia to a seminar on Plato at New York University, he is immediately at home. Carlo Rotella is one of the most important nonfiction writers working in America today.”
Robert Anasi, author of The Last Bohemia: Scenes from the Life of Williamsburg, Brooklyn
by Carlo Rotella
|Publication Date: October 1, 2012||978-0-226-72909-1|
|UK Publication Date: October 8, 2012||Cloth $27.50 / £18.00|
Where else will you find Buddy Guy rubbing shoulders with pulp fiction, pickup basketball, and the ins and outs of running a megachurch than in the inimitable essays of Carlo Rotella? Rotella is an old-fashioned journalist at heart, someone who digs beneath the surface of the story and sympathetically dwells in the lives of the people and places he encounters. The two dozen essays in Playing in Time, some of which have never before been published, revolve around the themes and obsessions that have characterized his writing from the start: boxing, music, writers, and cities. What holds them together is Rotella’s unique focus on people, craft, and what floats outside the mainstream. “Playing in time”refers to how people make beauty and meaning while working within the constraints and limits forced on them by life, and in his writing he transforms the craft and beauty he so admires in others into an art of his own.
Best known for his writings on boxing, Rotella does not disappoint here. It’s a topic that he turns to for its colorful characters, compelling settings, and formidable life lessons both in and out of the ring. His essays on blues, crime and science fiction writers, and urban spaces are equally and deftly engaging, combining an artist’s eye for detail with a scholar’s sense of research, whether taking us to visit detective writer George Pelecanos or to dance with the proprietress of the Baby Doll Polka Club next to Midway Airport in Chicago.