Not King Kong! Ping Pong!

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Who would have thought so many ping pong fanatics are out there? You did? Well, not me! Roger Bennett and Eli Horowitz are the authors of EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS PONG: How Mighty Table Tennis Shapes Our World (Harper Collins, November 2, 2010), a full color cultural history of “the sleeping giant of fast-paced fun,” which utilizes a museum-sized collection of material he has amassed to tell a series of ripping stories about Ping Pong’s impact on global politics, culture, and international relations. Yes, you read that right!

“We wrote the book,” Bennett told me, “with a simple aim: to restore the sport to the pedestal it so richly deserves. We invited many of our friends to add their own thinking about their passion for Ping Pong including Nick Hornby, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Booker Prize Winner Howard Jacobson, who in his essay, ‘A Life Pursuit’ examines the profound connection between the paddle and the pen:

“Table tennis is the ultimate game for those prone to introspection: we choose the game because we accept that defeat is inevitable, and we play to reconcile ourselves to its bitterness.”

The book includes:–The untold story of Ping Pong’s role in the rise of America as the world’s first suburban nation.— Chairman Mao’s selection of Ping Pong as China’s “spiritual nuclear weapon” in the 1950’s.— The rise and fall of Californian Ping Pong Soft Pornography culture in the 60s and 70s.— The waxing, waning and waxing of ping pong style, via flannel, velour, and terry cloth.— The nexus of Ping Pong and celebrity culture.— Why Ping Pong played a seminal role in the rise of Atari and the video game industry.

Catch a sniff of the breadth of their eclectic collection here.

They are also partnering with KSWISS to run large, charity celebrity tournaments (benefitting ping pong as well as child literacy) in cities across the country upon book release, including Charity Classics at the Lincoln Center in NY (November 10), and the Mondrian in LA in aid of 826 NYC in which Jonathan Safran Foer, John Oliver (Daily Show), Mort Zuckerman, Will Shortz, Judah Friedlander, AJ Jacobs, Nancy Franklin (New Yorker) and others will “really try and decapitate each other,” Bennett adds.

Roger Bennett is the author of Bar Mitzvah Disco and And You Shall Know Us By The Trail of Our Vinyl. Eli Horowitz is the managing editor of McSweeneys in San Francisco.

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