From Publishers Weekly
Novelist Dunn (Geek Love
) collects 22 essays and articles written over the last quarter-century. In 1980, Dunn's then-husband had her watch a fight on TV and from that day forward she was hooked. Soon afterward, Dunn began freelancing boxing pieces to an alternative paper in Oregon, the Willamette Weekly
. Over the years, Dunn has written on such subjects as hand wraps and cuts, on fighters famous (Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler) and obscure (Andy Minsker) and on the phenomenon of women's boxing. Her articles have appeared in publications that include Playboy
, Sports Illustrated
and Mother Jones
. Although Dunn's fiction is celebrated for its style, her essay prose rarely rises above the journeyman. Dunn seems to have a hard time deciding on her authorial position from essay to essay—advocate, journalist or eyewitness—and the lack of focus leaves the reader equally confused. Overall, the collection lacks unity: since Dunn is producing occasional pieces for various markets, she recycles the same details in different places, especially with the pieces on women and boxing. In a few articles, however, like Defending Tyson and the Minsker pieces, Dunn unveils insight that exceeds the merely perfunctory. While Dunn may be an old pro when it comes to fiction, with boxing she remains an amateur, albeit an enthusiastic one. (May)
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Featured in the Los Angeles Times Book Review's "Summer Books, Hot Type, 60 Picks for Best Reads of the Summer"
"Dunn unveils insight that exceeds the merely perfunctory." Publishers Weekly
"An exciting new addition to boxing literature. [Dunn's] prose is brilliant, and in a game so fully immersed in danger and utmost peril, the most striking thing is . . . [her]humanity." Thom Jones, National Book Award finalist, The Pugilist at Rest
"One of our finest novelists is also, hands-down, the best boxing journalist working today." Lucius Shepard, Nebula and Hugo Awardwinning science fiction writer and boxing journalist
"Ms. Dunn's collection is already my candidate for boxing book of the year. This one belongs on the top shelf alongside Heinz's Once They Heard the Cheers and McIlvanney's The Hardest Game." Peter Ehrmann, CBZ Newswire, CyberBoxingZone
"Collects the best and most accessible of [Dunn's] published essays, which vibrantly capture the culture, characters, and atmosphere of the sport [of boxing]." The Portland Mercury
"Katherine Dunn understands the sport instinctively and writes about it intuitively in this rich collection of her work. Not to coin a cliche, One Ring Circus is a 'Knockout'!" Bert Randolph Sugar, writer and historian, Boxing Hall of Fame