I believe time enough has lapsed since publication of David Remnick’s New Yorker remembrance of A.J. Liebling that any mention of it here is superfluous. So here’s my superfluous mention: Remnick’s piece is worth reading if you’re in love with
writing, reading, journalism, or just the joy to be had in joining words together in pleasing ways or observing one who’s good at it. The New Yorker site contains a real Liebling treat, too: a 1955 piece he wrote on a fight between the undefeated and long-time heavyweight champion, Rocky Marciano, and Archie Moore, an aging light heavyweight (Liebling calls him “cerebral and hyperexperienced”) who had worked for years to get a shot at the title.
“When, during some recent peregrinations in Europe, I read newspaper items about Moore’s decisioning a large, playful porpoise of a Cuban heavyweight named Nino Valdes and scoop-netting a minnow like Bobo Olson, the middleweight champion, for practice, I thought of him as a
lonely Ahab, rehearsing to buck Herman Melville, Pierce Egan, and the betting odds. I did not think that he could bring it off, but I wanted to be there when he tried. What would ‘Moby Dick’ be if Ahab had
succeeded? Just another fish story. The thing that is eternally diverting is the struggle of man against history, or what Albert Camus, who used to be an amateur middleweight, has called the Myth of
Sisyphus. (Camus would have been a great man to cover the fight, but none of the syndicates thought of it.) When I heard that the boys had been made for September 20th, at the Yankee Stadium, I shortened my stay abroad in order not to miss the Encounter of the Two Heroes, as Egan would have styled the rendezvous.”
Bottom line: Both pieces are worth your time.