Le Tour or Vive le difference

July 26th, 2006

Just finished watching the Tour de France, one of my two sporting addictions. I loved the comment of one analyst: it seems American Tour winners must visit Hell before they reach their destiny in the Tour. Europeans climb slowly and politely through the cycling ranks, from club riding to semi-pro to professional support rider to team leader to Tour winner. Americans must be either mostly dead from a gun shot, a cancer survivor, or a young fellow with a necrotic hip who falls into the Pit of Despair and hauls himself out again with sheer will, guts, and strength.

Which led me (believe it or not) to think about heroes and storytelling. Is one kind of story more satisfying than the other? Is this another expression of our discussion regarding literary vs genre fiction? The Pit of Despair can lend itself so easily to melodrama, the slow dutiful rise to subtler crises of faith. Hmmm…

7 Responses to “Le Tour or Vive le difference”

  1. Molly Newmanon 26 Jul 2006 at 7:26 pm

    Carol, what’s your other favorite sporting event?

    We had quite the weekend a few weeks back between the Tour, the World Cup finals and the Wimbledon finals. That epic headbutt seemed fraught with literary pathos… young man works his entire life to play the game he loves, feels triumph within his grasp, then loses it all in the unchecked passion of a single moment. Back to the Pit of Despair with him!

  2. Carol Bergon 27 Jul 2006 at 3:09 am

    Denver Bronco football. I know, I know…it just doesn’t fit the mom/engineer/literary image. But I was born in Texas and they inject you with footballitis somewhere along the line. Though they skipped my mom… Being a Bronco fan provides MANY trips to the Pit of Despair and every once in a while a view of the heights.

  3. Molly Newmanon 27 Jul 2006 at 12:09 pm

    We’re in Colorado too, and my husband has transferred his lifelong Cowboy fandom to the Broncos (I’m still a die-very-hard Niners fan). Yeah, I hear you on the Pit of Despair. Seems we get plummeted into it every time we thought we’d scaled the heights at last.

    At least as a Niners fan, you know to expect the despair. The pit starts feeling kinda cozy after a while, and you look forward to the albino coming around with beer.

  4. Don Meadon 27 Jul 2006 at 12:57 pm

    Uh-oh. Will they take away his status as champ if he’s tested positive for drugs?

  5. Molly Newmanon 28 Jul 2006 at 1:49 pm

    Wow… hubris and tragedy abound! I’m hoping for his mom’s sake it’s not true.

  6. Katharine Kerron 31 Jul 2006 at 5:10 pm

    Carol, I love football too. You are not alone. Of course, I’m a 49er fan, which means a slow misery to make up for all those years of glory, but whatthehell, can’t have life be too perfect.


  7. Carol Bergon 31 Jul 2006 at 10:10 pm

    Yes, they will take away the title if investigation shows he did it. And as he says, his name will always be tainted, whether or not he did, which is really sad. It’s very hard to prove one didn’t do something which is how these things work out. I sure hope it’s not true, as it was such a great story. I’m bummed…

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