From Publishers Weekly
An English professor and fight fan, Rotella writes essays that speak to both his passions. His carefully crafted prose ("Andreske's internal organs rolling and bruising in the lightless sea of his insides, like submarines bracketed by depth charges in old movies") demonstrates a gift for language as well as an in-depth understanding of boxing. Whether a fight takes place in a sold-out arena, a dingy training hall or a street corner outside a townie bar, Rotella, always the teacher, seeks out the inherent lesson to be learned by "the most basic fact" common to each and every fight: "hurt." But his most engaging writing occurs when he takes the lessons learned in the ring and applies them to people without monstrous physiques or lightning quick reflexes such as his aging grandmother; Gary, a car crash victim; and Russ, a college student trying to learn to box. Though none of his characters will ever fight a title bout, each one embodies an ideal-perseverance, honesty, self-discovery-that every fighter must understand to reach his pinnacle as a boxer and that every individual must strive to grow as a person. Rotella's essays, with their marriage of literary analysis and the hard-knocks reality of the fights, are a welcome addition to the vast library of boxing literature.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In an age when boxing is primarily a television sport, Rotella sings the praises of watching the fights at ringside, where blood splatters on your shirt and there's no turning away from what's at stake. In each of these thoughtful essays, Rotella tries to apply a lesson learned at ringside to real life. In "Cut Time," he contrasts the boxing career of Russell, an upper-middle-class student, with that of Art Baylis, an aging could-have-been with scar tissue prone to bleeding but a talent for perseverance. The strongest piece, "Mismatches," recalls an unlikely victory by an out-of-town human punching bag over the local hero. Rotella's encyclopedic knowledge of boxing makes for great fight summaries. He recounts the subtle feints and footwork invisible to the average fight fan. And although his poetic ruminations on a brutal sport may be a bit romanticized (there's little talk of the price fighters pay in brain cells to teach ringsiders about life), Rotella's enthusiasm for boxing is refreshing--and reminds us why no-name fighters keep hitting the heavy bag. John GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved