Daniel Alarcón

Fair Play
June 16, 2010

If you tell a sad, woeful story in Peru, hoping to elicit sympathy, someone might just respond with the phrase, “Bueno pues, así es el fútbol.” Meaning: that’s how soccer is; soccer, in this context, standing in for life. Soccer isn’t fair. Neither is life. Stop whining. To understand winning and losing in soccer one must set aside the concept of fairness. The side that plays beautifully might be justifiably proud of its collective aesthetic achievement; but if they don’t score, they’re not likely to win many tournaments.

The Maradona Conundrum
June 06, 2010

My cousin C_____ is a cynic, a jokester, a sly dealer in double-entendres, the sort who never says anything seriously. Only twice in my life have I heard him express a sincere emotion: at his wedding reception (happiness, presumably), and once when describing Diego Armando Maradona’s farewell game. I’d decided not to watch it, but C_____ couldn’t resist, and the next day, as he told me what he’d seen, his voice broke. I thought he was joking at first. It was a charity match, a spectacle, and a slow, grotesquely overweight Maradona scored three or four goals on penalty kicks.

The TNR Primary: Part Twelve
January 25, 2008

I spent last May with a group of writers touring Arab universities, meeting with students in Syria, Jordan, and Palestine. Whenever we were able to speak informally, politics--specifically, American politics--came up again and again. At times, the anxiety among the students we met was overwhelming. They wanted to know why we had gone to Iraq, why we had reelected Bush, why we had squandered our opportunity to lead. Which brings me to this year's presidential contest. I've never voted with much enthusiasm, and, certainly, this year feels different.