World Cup and TSR Fever: It’s Going Around

It’s almost mid-July, which I cannot believe. The summer passes so quickly. It’s been relatively quiet on campus—most of the students are on break, there’s a few movies being filmed in and around LSU’s lovely, oak-shaded quad, and even the employee parking lots have spots available occasionally. No one seems to be in much of a rush, unless it’s getting close to game time for one of the World Cup matches. Everyone seems to have the fever.

This very minute, as I write this, my six-year-old daughter is in camp for soccer because she wants “to play on Mama’s team” when she’s old enough. Her camp, in Baton Rouge, has about two hundred kids in it, including nearly thirty three- and four- year-olds. Soccer is serious here, now: so different from when I was growing up in the South, when the only sports seemed to be football and baseball, sometimes basketball. I’m happy to immerse myself in the game, though, whether I’m watching the World Cup on TV or computer or playing with my daughter or team, which I am thrilled to say my coeditor, Emily Nemens, now plays on with me. She’s an impressive player and claims to have scored a goal during a game I had missed when I was at the beach. (I’m still waiting for the video-footage proof!)

I came to play the game when I was an adult and have enjoyed it ever since I first heard the phrase “What you see,” called out by teammates, letting the ball carrier know that the field in front was clear of immediate challenges and that it was time to look around and go to goal. This phrase also provides a good approach to reading the summer issue of The Southern Review: our readers have many options from which to choose in order to have a satisfying experience that ends with what feels like a score. To begin, the vibrant cover and accompanying suite of abstract oil paintings by José-María Cundín are thought provoking with their politically-charged titles—and just plain beautiful. Inside, there’s a lot of wonderful poetry, including the last translation W. D. Snodgrass wrote before his death, in 2009, as well as new poems from Anna Journey, Bob Hicok, Sara Watson, and David Hernandez.

The audio gallery, which grows more popular every issue, features five short pieces that feel very summertime in small-town America from the entrancing Charles Simic. Mark Williams’s “Fractals” is a wandering piece that opens, “July 4, 1973. I’m the guy driving the blue Ford Pinto/ with the flammable hatchback and white vinyl top.” I brought this line up when we were having beers on the field after our last soccer game, and everyone exploded with memories and stories of their own Pintos and Gremlins. Becky Hagenston, whom we are happy to have back in our pages, has “Love Letter to Irresponsibility,” about a tired mother who daydreams about stealing away on a rock star’s tour bus. Many of us can with children (the lights of our lives that they are) who are home all day from school for the summer can identify with that daydream. I smiled when reading it, imagining, Bon Jovi? Mick Jagger? No, he doesn’t play guitar. Bon Jovi it is. Others in the gallery this time include poems from Luke Johnson and Christine Rhein and fiction from Richard Lange and Aurelie Sheehan.

Of course, when looking to see what else is open on the field of the summer issue, I recommend everyone read Inés Fernández Moreno’s “Miracle in Parque Chas,” translated by Richard V. McGehee. A sweet story about the soccer rivalry between Argentina and Brazil, there couldn’t be a more appropriate time for the story, as Argentina plays in the semifinal this afternoon and Brazil was so brutally eliminated from competition by Germany yesterday.

And now it’s about that time: time to start looking for a TV and planning a late-afternoon lunch before returning to work on a campus that is quiet but for the construction on Tiger Stadium, being readied for the other football that is to come in a few months. Until then, there’s plenty of summer and summer reading to be had, including some TSR issues from summers past, which are currently available for free in our summer subscription special, right here.

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