Golf Ball

Harry Brown (Author) Christopher Schaberg (Editor)
& 1 more
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Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

Harry Brown explores the composition, history, kinetic life, and the long deterioration of golf balls, which as it turns out may outlive their hitters by a thousand years, in places far beyond our reach. Golf balls embody our efforts to impose our will on the land, whether the local golf course or the Moon, but their unpredictable spin, bounce, and roll often defy our control. Despite their considerable technical refinements, golf balls reveal the futility of control. They inevitably disappear in plain sight and find their way into hazards. Golf balls play with people.

Harry Brown's short treatise on the golf ball serves up surprising lessons about the human desire to tame and control the landscape through technology.

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

Product Details

Bloomsbury Academic
Publish Date
January 29, 2015
4.8 X 0.6 X 6.4 inches | 0.3 pounds
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About the Author

Harry Brown is Associate Professor of English at DePauw University, USA. He is the author of Injun Joe's Ghost (University of Missouri, 2004) and Videogames and Education (M.E. Sharpe, 2008). He has published articles on American literature and culture in The Journal of American and Comparative Culture, Studies in Medievalism, and Paradoxa, as well as original fiction in Blueline and The Mississippi Review.


"Golf Ball is a funny, smart, and charming meditation on an unlikely subject. Who knew that the story of this humble little white sphere could tell us so much about our history and culture? Brown weaves cultural history, literary criticism, physics, and philosophy into this wonderful book. His meditation on the golf ball deserves a place on the reading list of the curious golfer and cultural critic alike." --Orin Starn, Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University, USA, and author of The Passion of Tiger Woods

"Brown starts where the curious amongst us always seem to-by taking things apart. Departing from the physical dissection of a single ball, performed as a boy, Brown rollicks through a detailed and highly entertaining exploration of the history of the game of golf. Golf Ball will fill the air of the 19th Hole with questions answered and stories told." --Tom Chiarella, Visiting Writer, Esquire Magazine, and Award-Winning Member of the Golf Writers Association of America

"The Object Lessons series achieves something very close to magic: the books take ordinary--even banal--objects and animate them with a rich history of invention, political struggle, science, and popular mythology. Filled with fascinating details and conveyed in sharp, accessible prose, the books make the everyday world come to life. Be warned: once you've read a few of these, you'll start walking around your house, picking up random objects, and musing aloud: 'I wonder what the story is behind this thing?'"--Steven Johnson, best-selling author of How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

"The Object Lessons project, edited by game theory legend Ian Bogost and cultural studies academic Christopher Schaberg, commissions short essays and small, beautiful books about everyday objects from shipping containers to toast. The Atlantic hosts a collection of "mini object-lessons", brief essays that take a deeper look at things we generally only glance upon ('Is bread toast only insofar as a human toaster perceives it to be "done?" Is bread toast when it reaches some specific level of nonenzymatic browning?'). More substantive is Bloomsbury's collection of small, gorgeously designed books that delve into their subjects in much more depth." --Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing