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wallace federerpovestea unei capodopere literare: Roger Federer descris de David Foster Wallace

povestea unei capodopere literare: Roger Federer descris de David Foster Wallace

aceasta recomandare nu este doar pentru iubitorii de tenis, ci mai ales pentru jurnalisti, si pentru cei care vor sa scrie.

unul dintre cele mai citite articole ale acestui an (in presa de specialitate, pt jurnalisti) a fost despre felul in care scriitorul american David Foster Wallace obisnuia sa administreze informatiile pe care le afla si cum doar doua dintre textele sale – ambele despre tenis – au respectat regulile jurnalismului; pentru restul imaginindu-si dialoguri in baza faptelor pe care le obtinuse din reporting-ul pe teren.

Wallace  a fost un geniu al generatiei lui ( a murit in 2008), un geniu caruia Jeffrey Eugenides i-a adus un omagiu creind personajul principal din Intriga Matrimoniala cu elemente din personalitatea sa (am scris despre Eugenides de multe ori, dar si despre fragmentul meu fetis din literatura lui), iar Jonathan Franzen – cel mai bine cotat scriitor american al momentului , bun prieten cu Wallace – i-a dedicat in profilul pe care revista TIME i l-a facut in urma cu citiva ani, un capitol special. ( e emotionanta secventa in care povesteste ca, dupa ce Wallace s-a sinucis, Franzen a preluat obiceiul acestuia de a mesteca tutun ca sa pastreze cu el mereu ceva din prietenul lui)

In conditiile acestea Wallace care avea un succes imens la public nu a publicat in NEw York Times nimic altceva jurnalistic, decit textul despre Federer. (NY Times are o divizie importanta pentru verificarea faptelor si stilul de naratiune – imaginativ jurnalistica – a lui Wallace nu se incadra in politica ziarului)


iata insa detalii de culise din cel mai celebru profil scris despre Federer vreodata, despre cum intervievatul crede ca jurnalistul e un ciudat si nu intelege nimic din ce i se intimpla, iar rezultatul e cel mai faimos si disputat text jurnalistic din 2006.

Before he sat down with the best tennis player on the planet for a noonday interview in the middle of the 2006 Wimbledon fortnight, David Foster Wallace prepared a script. Atop a notebook page he wrote, “R.Federer Interview Qs.” and below he jotted in very fine print 13 questions. After three innocuous ice breakers, Wallace turned his attention to perhaps the most prominent theme in all his writing: consciousness. Acknowledging the abnormal interview approach, Wallace prefaced these next nine inquires with a printed subhead: “Non-Journalist Questions.” Each interrogation is a paragraph long, filled with digressions, asides, and qualifications; several contain superscripted addendums. In short, they read like they’re written by David Foster Wallace. He asks Roger Federer if he’s aware of his own greatness, aware of the unceasing media microscope he operates under, aware of his uncommon elevation of athletics to the level of aesthetics, aware of how great his great shots really are. Wallace even wrote, “How aware are you of the ballboys?” before crossing the question out.

Wallace choreographed social cues and professional reminders throughout the interview. The end of the Federer conversation comes with the caveat “Qs the Editors want me to ask [w/Apologies].” And a later discussion with Federer’s then-coach Tony Roche begins “Honor to meet you” with a reminder that Roche suffered from chronic tennis elbow and used Yonex rackets. Never comfortable in his role as a reporter, Wallace printed a preface to the Roche questions: “I’m not a journalist—I’m more like a novelist with a tennis background.” Wallace had a history of anti-credentialing himself both in person and in print, and while this reportorial and rhetorical maneuver may have disarmed sources it also created a calculus for Wallace to write under. He saw clear lines between journalists and novelists who write nonfiction, and he wrestled throughout his career with whether a different set of rules applied to the latter category.

Initially, sources reported that Federer was flummoxed by the unconventional encounter, feeling that the “questions were inane, the dude weird, and the whole exercise a complete waste of his time.” But several years later when he was asked about the resultant story–“Roger Federer as Religious Experience,” which ran in PLAY magazine, a short-lived sports supplement to New York Times Magazine–Federer recalled the interaction more fondly, saying, “I had a funny feeling walking out of the interview. I wasn’t sure what was going to come out of it because I didn’t know exactly what direction he was going to go. The piece was obviously fantastic.

Recently during an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on the social media platform Reddit, he reiterated his admiration for the story: “The thing that struck me is that I only spent 20 min with him in the ATP office at Wimbledon, and he was able to produce such a comprehensive piece.” Federer unknowingly hits on a significant aspect of Wallace’s literary journalism: his ability to imbue a story with larger significance beyond the ostensible subject. Several tangential topics emerge in the PLAY cover story beyond the standard profile of the Swiss phenom. Wallace discourses on the physiology of the human body, the transcendence of athleticism to the sublime, the difference between live spectatorship and televised tennis, the engineering and effectiveness of modern tennis rackets, and the reconciliation of divine grace and mortality. When the story was published on August 20, 2006, “the acclaim that greeted the piece was nearly instantaneous. It was among the most discussed stories of the year in the journalism industry.”


si putin despre documentarea pentru acest text

Going through Wallace’s voluminous papers at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, it is unmistakable that he was meticulous to the point of compulsive about every aspect of this story, from pre-interview preparations to final layout. His research comprised printouts, including eBay listings, on the particulars of Ivan Lendl’s 1980s-era GTX Pro-T racket, including its dimensions, strung weight, balance, swingweight, and stiffness.[v] Wallace also collected several Federer features from publications across the globe, including “Spin Doctors” by Tom Perotta, an account of how modern rackets have changed the game of tennis, which ran in the July/August 2006 issue of The Atlantic Monthly.

Wallace underlined and annotated much of Perotta’s piece, and used information from the article to augment his own aside on how the true revolution in racket engineering was not merely increased pace on the ball, but rather the degree and depth of topspin it engendered, especially during the service return. Other bits of research included a print-out of the Wikipedia entry for proprioception which he used for a riff on an athlete’s “kinesthetic sense,” and a Q&A transcript between Federer and a Wimbledon moderator after Federer’s straight set victory over Mario Ancic in the quarterfinals (the day before Wallace conducted his rare mid-tournament one-on-one with Federer).[vi]

Wallace begins the story with a brief anecdote about experiencing “Federer Moments” before reversing course and proclaiming there’s nothing newsworthy about his subject: “Journalistically speaking, there is no hot news to offer you about Roger Federer.”[vii] Wallace proves this point by listing the blandest of biographical details—age, family, personality, achievements; the bedrock of every banal sports feature—and concluding the paragraph dismissively: “it’s all just a Google search away. Knock yourself out.” Similar to his anti-credentialing, Wallace often approximated this type of journalistic indifference, and this particular example echoes a line from his story “Consider the Lobster” (Gourmet 2004).

Early in that piece Wallace acknowledges, “For practical purposes, everyone knows what a lobster is. As usual, though, there’s much more to know than most of us care about—it’s all a matter of what your interests are.” Wallace used that story, set amidst the 2004 Maine Lobster Festival, to explore the murky relationship between consciousness and what it means to be a gourmet. Similarly, he uses the Federer piece, with Wimbledon as his backdrop, as a vehicle to raise questions about grace and the grotesque, and the reconciliation of the two in both mind and body.


aici puteti citi textul despre Federrer care e absolut genial si care-l arata desigur pe Wallace un foarte bun cunoscator al tenisului, nu doar un pasionat (aproape fanatic).
profilul e atit de bine realizat, din asocieri, din cautarea de a intelege personalitatea lui Federrer (dincolo de tehnica de scris), incit si astazi este perfect valabil. si e o capodopera.


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