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Fat City (California Fiction) Paperback – October 6, 1996
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Gardner has laid claim to a locale that others have explored, but seldom with such accuracy and control . . . in a tone that is both detached and lyrical." -- New York Times Book Review
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Top Customer Reviews
Leonard Gardner has followed the rule of thumb laid down years ago of "Write what you know." Gardner grew up in Stockton and knows the lower middle class world he describes with graphic brilliance. He was an amateur boxer, giving him a knowledge of how men struggle to survive in that competitive and highly dangerous world.
Gardner's story craft is straight out of Albert Camus, in many ways reminiscent of his epic novella, "The Stranger." His descriptions of dingy bars and dreary hotel rooms ring with clarity, transferring readers to a world of existential survival where some cling to hope while others have long since given up.
Tully was on the verge of being a contender but lost a major fight, hit the bottle, and quit boxing. He got a job as a short order cook. After going to the local high school gym to work out he meets Ernie Munger. At 18 Ernie is eleven years Tully's senior. He becomes so impressed by Munger's moves that he recommends that he visit Lido Gym and look up his former manager. When Munger begins boxing amateur Tully's interest increases and he is motivated to launch a comeback.
Tully and Munger seek extra money by working as field pickers under a broiling sun.Read more ›
The book is about boxing and low life, faded dreams, lack of prospects, booze, rooming houses, failed relationships in a small California town. The two primary characters are Billy Tully and Ernie Munger. Billy at age 29 is a washed-up fighter who has lost his wife and several jobs and is sinking deeply into alcohol and oblivion. Ernie is 19 years old and a boxer who may have potential. He marries a young women named Faye, after getting her pregnant, and takes up the ring as a professional in order to support his wife and child.
The paths of the two men cross in the gym at the beginning of the book and their careers take parallel courses. Billy had lost an important fight in Panama some years earlier when his manager, Ruben Luna, forced him to travel alone to Panama in order to save on expenses. He makes an attempted comeback at the age of 30 and actually wins a decision in a brutal match with an aging Mexican fighter. He returns to fighting to try to save himself from depression over the loss of his wife, his lack of prospects, and his loneliness.
Ernie Munger is young and works at a gas station. Although he has some boxing potential, his skills appear limited. As had been the case with Tully years earlier, Ruben Luna sends Munger out of town, (to Las Vegas) for a fight to save on the expenses. This is Munger's first professional fight which proves more successful for him than did Tully's fight in Panama.Read more ›
That the author never published another book, and that this was his first, is incredible. To write this cleanly and confidently, he must have practiced and studied for years. Yet to never do it again.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
‘At one time he had believed the nineteen-fifties would bring him to greatness. Now they were almost at an end and he was through. Read morePublished 29 days ago by nigel p bird
The underbelly of any sport is seamy,boxing s underbelly takes it to another level. the way out of hell should not be through it.Published 1 month ago by Farmer frank
This is a deeply brilliant story not just about boxers but all people who live on the margins of society, especially those that see a glimmer of success that quickly dissipates. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Jim F. Baughman
You are in it and of it and it is surreal in the way that someone with a virtuosic ear for speech and place and experience can take the basic parts of surviving and turn them into... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Michael England
Amazing writing. I could see why this is considered a must- read for students of writing. Sad story of real characters. Don't let the boxing angle turn you off. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Randy Ross
great book. but then, all the nyrb books are solid. but this one was super great.Published 3 months ago by Donny Waagen
Rare writer and novel of grim beauty. Every word from the canvas-view, winners and losers alike take the hits. Magic.Published 3 months ago by Charles NYC