Chronicles: Hemingway, Faulkner, Emily Dickinson, Elmore Leonard, Lee
by John Branston
Ian McEwan wrote about
it -- well – in his novel “Saturday.”
Woody Allen played it – badly – in his movie “Manhattan.” For the most
however, squash – in contrast to baseball, boxing, and hunting and
has been ignored by men and women of arts and letters. Perhaps this
will be corrected by the Black Knight Squash Short Story Contest. What
famous writers had made squash the focus of their passion, rage, and
efforts? Might we have seen such works as these?
Hemingway: Big Two-Hearted Squash Court
He had waited all day to
get to this, the good place. The place where the water was cool and
clear that he could see the bottom. It was good and he was alone and he
down. The place where he sat was smooth and cool against his skin. He
stay here, and he would come to grips with the bad place. The place
engaged in close combat, so close they could smell one another's sweat.
place where they screamed in awful agony “tin, tin, tin” and where the
projectiles flew past their heads.
He thought about the
well-lighted place where the red lines crossed, their redness the color
blood that came from the mouth of the rainbow trout he had caught for
supper. Like the blood that he himself had spilled in the bad place not
ago. He took comfort now in the memory of the bad place. He had tested
and he had found that he had cojones, like the Great Khan himself. Some
hoped that he would meet him. But now he was in the good place, and it
soon be time for supper. He looked once again into the cool waters
It was good. He would return to the good place tomorrow when the sun
warmed his tent. He flushed.
Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Squash and Hunt Club
It was long ago a time
before time and space where Colonel Benjamin Grierson’s daring cavalry
through Mississippi and Yoknapatawpha County where the damn yankee son
colonel with more money than sense and his wife a secret southern
to Mississippi from the North the land of sin and industry and the
factories that drove Dixie down in the War of Northern Aggression he
finest mansion and cotton plantation in the state and dug a hole in the
that everyone took to be a turnip cellar but was really a squash court
ones in Boston and Quinton Cline wondered why anyone would want to bury
perfectly good vegetables and the son of the colonel staged the great
exhibition match between Hashim Khan and Jonah Barrington and Lem
Cletus the bear hunter who took to the game a rangy boy of whom it was
that you could get a pork chop past a coon dog easier that passing him
squash court and when he was playing his sister Sugarbaby the wagons
the roads for miles to see them and the flivver dust would fly on the
summer afternoons and the Delta dirt that had been there since the
period and where brave men had shed blood in the alluvial mud of the
before time that can never be forgotten and haunts the lives of
where they live in the past that is not past and you can hardly find a
cup of coffee for a nickel anymore.
J. D. Salinger: Squasher in the Rye
If you really want to
know, I would tell you this prep school is a joke, but then you'd
to know my whole goddamn autobiography. The only reason I'm here at
because my parents made me go to squash camp from the time I was about
goddamn years old and some coach saw me play and decided I should be on
hot-damn squash team. Can you believe it? Me and that cocky bastard
with his letter sweater and his goddamn white shorts and Jack Purcell
What a phony.
The only thing good
about being on the squash team is I don't have to be around that pimply
Ackley, who hangs around the dorm and can be depressing as hell. It
feel lousy just thinking about him. I think I'll take the train into
Maybe crash the Downtown Athletic Club. What a bunch of phonies.
Dickinson: Because I Could Not Stop For Lets
Because I could not stop for
He kindly stopped for me;
The squash court held but just
We slowly drilled, he knew no haste,
but would not clear the way.
My forehands, and my drop shots
Were working well that day.
We passed the school where squashers played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the Amherst courtyard
I had a Cinnabon.
We paused before the crucial point,
The ball went round and round;
The tin was scarcely visible.
The corners soon I found.
Since then 'tis centuries but each
Feels shorter whence to me,
I first surmised that winning
You must control the T.
L James: 50 Shades of Grey and One Squash Stud
“Listen very closely Anastasia.
Today I am
going to teach you a new drill called Boast Rail. If you do it well
knows what other pleasures may be in store for you.”
Anastasia Steele, as
usual, was obedient. She could not take her eyes off her master's
bulging pecs, shapely glutes, and rock-hard calves. When he unsheathed
27-inch Black Knight Magnum Corona from its leather case her loins
excitement. He smiled slyly at her and commanded her to stand in a
whipped the Magnum back and forth a few times, then began hitting the
Double Yellow Dot against the front wall. Faster and faster, harder and
deeper and deeper, tighter and tighter as he thrust left and right, his
movements deft as a ballet dancer's. In her skin-tight Spandex shorts
tank top that revealed the top of her perfect breasts, Anastasia licked
lips in anticipation.
“Move with me now,
Anastasia. I want you to cut my balls off in the corners and smash them
Oh God, she thought, am
I really here? She forced her body to do things she never imagined she
do, as her master drove her without mercy. Deeper! Harder! Tighter!
“That's it, that's it,
don't stop,” he cried. “Tomorrow we do front-court drops and smashes!”
Anastasia exploded in a
paroxysm of pleasure and fell to the floor at his feet.
Lee Child: Jack Reacher, Squash Avenger
Lee Child: Jack Reacher, Squash Avenger
“Who are you, mister?”
Reacher had heard the
question 100 times. His answer was always the same. “Just a guy.”
A big guy, 6' 5” tall,
240 pounds, former military policeman. But now just a guy roaming the
by himself, hitching rides and catching Greyhound buses, with nothing
clothes on his back, a toothbrush in his pocket, and a squash racquet.
who didn't go looking for trouble, but trouble always seemed to find
That can happen when you
get your kicks at some of the roughest squash clubs in the country, and
Club From Hell outside of Boston was one of the worst. A dive full of
attitudes, MBAs, and too much testosterone. Reacher was minding his own
business, hitting by himself on the challenge court, when a musclebound
banged on the door and walked in.
“Which part of DRESS
CODE don't you understand, pal?” he said.
Reacher said nothing.
He was wearing black
high-top Converse All-Stars, a pea-green t-shirt, and a pair of camo
shorts he had just bought at a thrift store. The lunk had been joined
four of his buddies, all of them brandishing their Dunlop 130-gram
sneering at him.
The 130-gram racquet is
fine for tournaments but a poor killing machine prone to breaking in
Reacher's first-generation Jahangir Khan graphite model, on the other
weighed nearly 200 grams and was indestructible. In his hands it was a
As Reacher knew he
would, the musclebound lunk came at him first, figuring to impress his
with a leaping karate kick. Reacher had seen the move a thousand times
sidestepped it easily. He grabbed the lunk's foot in mid-air and gave
savage twist, severing the Achilles tendon and cracking the ankle bone
lunk crashed to the floor in agony. Two of his pals advanced on him,
their Dunlops. Reacher knew the racquet is slightly head heavy, and
calculated that its air speed and momentum would carry its right-handed
just above his left shoulder. He ducked the first swing and jabbed the
of his Jahangir Khan in the guy's gut, knocking the wind out of him.
spun around on his right leg, flipped the racquet, and swung it in a
arc, practically decapitating the guy and slowing his advance for half
second. That was plenty of time for Reacher to grab him by the
head butt him, crushing his nose and eye sockets. Nothing more than
physics. A pink mist splattered the wall.
One of the other punks
managed to land a glancing blow to Reacher's shoulder with his racquet,
cracked on impact. He drove one of his size 14 Converse All-Stars into
guy’s knee, shattering the femur and patella and turning the ACL and
to strands of spaghetti. Chrondromalacia would be his best hope if he
walked again. Then he finished off the last guy with an elbow smash to
larynx. Death usually comes in 30 seconds. It would be a blessing.
“You guys want a let or
a stroke on that?” Reacher said.
Then he stuffed his
racquet into his duffel bag, walked out of the Club From Hell, and
the highway. Just a guy, thumbing a ride to Anytown, USA.
Anne Coulter: Obamascore is Ruining America!
So, let's connect the
dots, people. In 2008 the namby-pamby libs on the World Squash
adopted the point-a-rally (PAR) scoring system. And in 2008 Barack
Obama was elected president of the United States. Coincidence? I hardly
Obamacare wasn't the
only card up that sleazeball's sleeve. If Obamascore wasn't Item 2 on
nanny-state agenda then I'll make out with Keith Olbermann. “The game
long, it's too hard, there must be a point awarded after every rally so
gets their little feelings hurt.” What whiners.
You think deficits don't
matter? Tell that to someone trailing 8-1. Our traitorous president
have gotten away with such shenanigans if Margaret Thatcher had been
bet on that. The Iron Lady. There was a woman who knew how to rule. If
Labor Party lefty tried a lazy crosscourt on Maggie she'd cut it off
it into the nick every time. Thanks to her, the Brits gave the world
magnificent Peter Nicol, Lee Beachill, and James Willstrop.
What this mollycoddling,
liberal-loving, Obamascoring country needs is no-nonsense leaders like
Hosni Mubarak. The General. A little rough around the edges maybe, but
conservative's conservative. And what a player! Is it any wonder that
from Karim Darwish to Rami Ashour have dominated the sport for a
decade? As for
Americans, don't make me laugh. It would take three of them to beat
Leonard: Killshot II
“Squash? The fuck?”
About the Author:
John Branston lives in Memphis, writes for various publications, and started
playing squash when he was 50. He can beat players who aren't very
above story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and
incidents are either products of the author's imagination or are used
fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental.