Jerome Charyn,
Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins:
Ping Pong & the Art of Staying Alive

(Four Walls Eight Windows, 2001)

Author Jerome Charyn chronicles the history of ping pong through an inside view of the people who love to play it in Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins.

While many have played a casual game of ping pong now and then, still more take the game very seriously. Charyn describes his own passion for the game in the United States and France as well as detailing the lives and playing styles of ping pong stars such as Marty Reisman and Dick Miles. He moves fluidly back and forth through time to describe competitions past and present, chart the careers of major players and portray the passion for the sport in the rest of the world.

Charyn's writing is as lively as his subject. He has insight born of experience in the topic at hand and can discuss the finer points of difference between a hard bat covered with pimpled rubber or the soft "sandwich" of a sponge bat. He peppers the text with anecdotes, some amusing and some poignant, and he devotes two chapters to the ping pong diplomacy of the early 1970s.

This is a quirky, unusual book, well written and carefully researched, with a detailed bibliography. Charyn makes a relatively overlooked sport seem vital and vibrant, and Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins is a remarkable and thoughtful tribute.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 25 January 2003

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