Thumbs up for The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis. Literature.
Look, look! I do sometimes read modern American literature! (Is 1983 modern? I say yes.) Mostly, I just revile the stuff about witless middle-class white people—always strangely similar to the author—struggling with the inevitable crises of vocation, the tediously dysfunctional marriages, the hideous and yet somehow sadly mundane family secrets, blah blah baaa. Don’t get me started. The Queen’s Gambit, on the other hand, is about a girl who is far from average: she is a natural chess genius. You don’t have to have any more than a basic knowledge of chess to enjoy this book; you just have to be open to mesmerizing writing—dreamy but concrete—and a willingness to be swept away in the transcendence of art: in this case, the art of playing chess. Not flashy, but quietly, perfectly beautiful. Highly recommended.
She was five minutes late for the test, but no one seemed to care and she finished before everyone else anyway. In the twenty minutes until the end of the period she played “P. Keres—A. Tarnkowski: Helsinki 1952.” It was the Ruy Lopez Opening where White brought the bishop out in a way that Beth could see meant an indirect attack on Black’s king pawn. On the thirty-fifth move White brought his rook down to the knight seven square in a shocking way that made Beth almost cry out in her seat.
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