Roger Angell

February 28–March 1, 2005


Roger Angell
"Roger Angell is the clear-eyed poet laureate of baseball. His books are like long, wonderful strings of base hits by the home team. You don't want them to end."
--The New York Post

An essayist and fiction editor for the New Yorker, Roger Angell's meditative essays on baseball have earned him the reputation as one of the greatest sportswriters of all time. The New York Times Book Review compared the experience of reading Angell to "watching a game unfold in its own good time over a long afternoon, hoping it will go into extra innings and last until sundown." Known for reporting as a fan as well as a member of the press, he elevates writing about sports to an art form. The editors of the New York Review of Books praised Angell's collection The Summer Game (1972), for its "searching for the Higher Game, the cosmology behind each pitch, each swing, each shared joy and ridiculous hope of summer's long adventure." Angell's other books on the national pastime include Late Innings (1982), Season Ticket (1983), Five Seasons (1988), Once More Around the Park (1991) and Game Time (2003). He is the author of the introduction to the latest edition of The Elements of Style, a guide to writing by William Strunk and E.B. White, Angell's stepfather. His own collection of fiction The Stone Arbor and Other Stories was published in 1960.

Segmented Discussion:

  1. introduction (4:19): MP3
  2. trust and telling family stories (3:05): MP3
  3. writing about catching (4:45): MP3
  4. writing styles: lists and knuckle balls (5:11): MP3
  5. writerly influences (3:03): MP3
  6. baseball as a celebration (3:01): MP3
  7. box scores: miniature narratives (2:02): MP3
  8. changes in the box score (1:42): MP3
  9. genre writing (2:27): MP3
  10. length of games (2:08): MP3
  11. the Yankees and the Giants (1:54): MP3
  12. baseball after 9/11 (4:02): MP3
  13. Jackie Robinson (2:45): MP3
  14. memory and sports writing (2:56): MP3
  15. working at the New Yorker (1:40): MP3
  16. personal license (3:06): MP3
  17. writing in other genres (2:02): MP3
  18. steroids (2:20): MP3
  19. pigeon hole or expertise (1:43): MP3
  20. talk radio (5:31): MP3
  21. writing in the present tense (2:14): MP3
  22. more Met than Yankee: writing about loss (5:31): MP3
  23. reading from "Agincourt and After" (5:23): MP3

complete reading (1:12:51): MP3

Angell's praise of the students and of the Kelly Writers House

Thanks can't begin to express the pleasure and stimulation and challenge and sense of unending welcome that I experienced with you and your students and colleagues on Monday and Tuesday. I have done this sort of thing before but never at this level of intensity and kindness and involvement. I was particularly struck by the students who sat in that intently listening, eagerly questioning circle and gave me their attention. I remember a few faces, and I'm still surprised and touched at the way so many came back to me later with further questions and compliments. All this began with the intense reading and discussion of my writings that you'd instituted long before I arrived; everyone knew my work well, which is an absolute heaven for a writer, of course, and much rarer than you'd imagine. I'd never encountered a curriculum anything like this. Our group discussions became personal and at times emotional, but always in an atmosphere of collaboration and searching interest. There was none of the hauteur and wary boredom that I've often encountered with bright upper-level students - particularly the memoirs - in fresh and dangerously exalted ways. I learned as much from our encounter as anyone else. This is to say thanks again to each and all - I'll never forget you - and to wish the best of luck to you and your writings, as well.