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Summary of String Theory 

Short summary

String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis by David Foster Wallace features a series of witty, yet insightful reads about the beloved game of professional tennis, by one of its most ardent followers. Leveraging his experience as a “once-upon-a-time” insider of the sport (he was a junior-ranked player), David Wallace takes the reader beyond the glam surrounding professional play to expose what goes on behind its scenes. So if you follow professional tennis, and you want a good laugh along with those “aha!” moments, this is one book you don't want to miss.

Key points


String Theory is a series of David Foster Wallace’s articles on tennis

Tennis is arguably the most difficult sport in that it isolates the player. Just as chess is a game no one can help you play, in tennis, you cannot enlist the help of anyone else. In fact, tennis is tougher in that it requires the unity of mind and body.

Growing up in Illinois, David Foster Wallace learned to play tennis using the weather conditions to his advantage. He always timed his game to make the ball move in the direction of the wind. By choosing not to control the ball but guiding it using the wind, he was able to win many games as a junior tennis player.
Great athletes are profundity in motion. They enable abstractions like power and grace and control to become not only incarnate but televisable. ~ David Foster Wallace
The performance of top athletes holds everyone in awe because they appear to be able to move in ways that humans shouldn’t be capable of. However, achieving such a level of proficiency usually comes at great cost. They have to be able to give up not just their childhood but other beautiful things in life to be able to devote their time and attention to the game of tennis.
When training meets talent until the practice becomes automatic, the result is impeccable performance.
In this summary, you will discover the thoughts of an English wordsmith par excellence on a sport he idolizes. It is impossible to read these without falling in love with tennis if you haven’t already. And if you’re a fan, Wallace’s romanticism will fill you with a blend of nostalgia and affection.

David Foster Wallace was much more than an American Author

David Foster Wallace is well known as the famous American author. What many don't know is that he was once a genius on the tennis courts. If fate had dealt him other cards, he would have become a professional tennis player, considering that he started out life as a ranked junior tennis player.
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Whichever way you look at it, tennis stars are no accidents


There are no shortcuts to turning professional in tennis — requires a lot of hard work and ability


Autobiographies by top athletes are usually boring because being boring made them great athletes in the first place


Roger Federer made old school tennis mainstream again



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