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The Longshot: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, August 11, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Original edition (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439107521
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439107522
  • ASIN: B003E7ETYE
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,016,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Four years earlier, top Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter Cal took on the powerful Rivera, who won the fight by judges' decision. Now, at 29, Cal's out to stage a comeback, à la Rocky Balboa. Spare and beautifully written, this debut novel follows Cal and his loyal trainer, Riley, as they head to Tijuana for the rematch. Cal and Riley privately wonder if they've made a huge miscalculation; Rivera this time is after a knockout, and Cal doubts that his body can withstand Rivera's pounding, and questions if the fire in him is passion or just an overwhelming fear of retirement. In the world Kitamura creates, only these three men exist; there is no family or friends. She reveals Cal's heart and mind as he struggles to understand himself as a man and as a fighter and paints the portrait of Riley as a loving but gruff friend and mentor. Kitamura, a journalist who for years has followed MMA matches, brings a physicality to her story with descriptions of the action so vivid the reader feels the pain of every punch and kick. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"In her debut novel, The Longshot, Katie Kitamura delivers the reader into the exotic, bruising, and hypermasculine world of mixed martial arts with startling economy and even more startling insight...Kitamura excels at slicing and dicing to build tension. Hers is a dry-eyed viewpoint expressed through detail so sharp freeze-frames seem to turn kinetic. One lesson of The Longshot is you must fulfill your commitments, if only to find out what you're made of. Another is that Kitamura is a major talent." -- Boston Globe

"The Longshot takes the reader into the minds, hearts, and bodies of two highly dedicated and taciturn men. Kitamura's descriptions of mixed-martial-arts fighting are brutal yet beautiful....Her writing is spellbinding...in its power. Kitamura is a genuine discovery." -- Booklist, starred review

"If you're planning to get into the ring with the heavyweights of boxing lit (A.J. Liebling's The Sweet Science, Leonard Gardner's Fat City), you need a knockout hook. Katie Kitamura, in her debut novel, has one." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Katie Kitamura has produced a lean, taut little novel as authentic as any sport could hope to have represent it. The Longshot, her debut effort, reads the way we imagine the best fighters to be: quiet, measured, self-assured, always thinking ahead...[with] a fierce sense of elegance." -- The Daily Beast

"An extraordinary novel from a major new talent. In taut, pared-down prose, Kitamura takes the reader right into the ring." -- Hari Kunzru, author of The Impressionist

"This is a terrific debut: charged, intimate, raw. Here is an author who not only understands the alloying of muscle and mentality in sport, the elation and heartbreak of competition, and of life, but can also write about it all with compassion and beautiful austerity." -- Sarah Hall, author of The Electric Michelangelo

"Hemingway's returned to life -- and this time, he's a woman." -- Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder

"With refreshingly unadorned prose, Kitamura reduces to an intensely crystalline moment the tension surrounding a fighter and his coach as they prepare for a match. Kitamura's language sticks to the page with a delightful monocular clarity that invites readers to enter into the minds of these two men. The Longshot gives readers a rare glimpse into an intriguing world." -- Yannick Murphy, author of Signed, Mata Hari

"Back in the day, we'd have wondered how a woman -- a woman! -- could know so much about this brutally masculine world. The marvel today is that Katie Kitamura can write about it with such grace, compassion, and breezy confidence. She knows her way around the ring and the human heart." -- Elizabeth Benedict, author of The Practice of Deceit --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

A stunning first novel -- I am looking forward to the next one.
Patricia Mokhtarian
Kitamura tells a simple story, with a striped-down style that is very powerful and provides a wonderful feeling of what it's like on the inside of MMA.
W. Spencer
The sharp prose and the characterizations make this a book worth reading.
Tom Hinkle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul Craig on August 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a great book for fight fans who want an inside look at the swirl of emotions around a major fight. Cal, a veteran fighter, is trying to turn his career around, and Riley, his longtime trainer, has gotten him a rematch with the champion, who won their first fight but didn't knock Cal out, unlike all of the champion's other opponents. The relationship between fighter and trainer, what it's like to be on the comeback trail and the underdog, the psychology of a game plan, the weigh-in, the slow final hours before the fight, the walk to the ring (or octagon), and the chaos of the fight--all are covered with sharp nuance and detail. Katie Kitamura must have spent a lot of time around fighters because she really understands them. I've been a boxing fan since I was a kid and a hardcore mixed martial arts fan since the first UFC in 1993 and I loved this book. Note to mma fans: I'm guessing that Rivera, Cal's opponent, is based on the younger, Pride-era Vanderlei Silva. Cal could be based on any of several American wrestlers.

But it's also a great book for anyone, fight fan or not, who wants to understand some of what it means to feel scared and numb but to fight anyway, to want to protect a friend, to be brave, to not be able to let something go because it's the only thing you're good at and because it's in your blood, to want, against the odds, to be at peace--in short, some of what it means to be a man.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Zoepf on July 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
Kitamura has a wonderful eye for kinetic detail. Her writing is so taut and specific in its descriptions of movement and physical action and her feel for the psychology of fighting is so sure that the reader actually feels what it must be like to be in the ring with an MMA fighter. Remarkable.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Derek Hynes on July 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
It doesnt matter if you are not a fan of Mixed Martial Arts, describing the Longshot as a work about fighting is like saying Fight Club is about boys beating each other up. I havent been this excited about a debut novel since Craig Davidsons, The Fighter. This gem of a book stays with you after you've finished reading it, something that unfortunately doesnt come around too often. The taut sharp prose is as economical as punches from a veteran fighter and its hard to believe at times that this is the first offering from a promising new writer.

Excellent debut worthy of its 5 stars.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Johns on July 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
A fantastic debut - you don't need to be a fan of fighting to appreciate this book. Although the novel is set in the world of mixed martial arts, it is really about friendship, vulnerability, hope and disappointment. It is spare and beautifully written; both the action and dialogue feel completely authentic. The book goes into the hearts and minds of Cal and Riley (his trainer) in the three days running up to a crucial rematch in Tijuana. This fight is Cal's chance to restart his stalled career. But it's also a stress test of his relationship Riley. The descriptions of the training and the fighting are visceral and gripping; the psychology of the fight and the fighter utterly convincing. I read this book in one sitting. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Reslewic on September 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
Kitamura writes a beautiful story that captures the intricacy and nuances in human action, and in how people relate to one another. The dialogue ranges from simple to charged with emotions, and the author's descriptive detail paints image upon image as the gritty story unfolds. The story reminds us of the accidents in life -- how we fall into paths, activities, and careers, and these are merely settings for human relationships, struggle, and victory. Kitamura's writing is like a current carrying you along, page after page. Yet, when you stop and re-read a dialogue, or a description, you appreciate the complexity and vivid detail present. Kitamura has achieve a remarkable feat by writing a story about MMA that I think anyone can relate to and draw inspiration from.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Bey VINE VOICE on August 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
MMA is a fairly new sport so there really hasn't been that much fiction written about it. Sure Rocky is still an icon but boxing has been losing momentum for years and I was really excited to get to read something about MMA. MMA is a very hard sport and requires months of training for a single match. The Longshot revolves around the rigorous training for a single match, specifically a rematch. Cal is a fighter who has just lost a match to a very tough competitor named Rivera. Cal receives mentorship from his coach Riley. The book is more about the days leading up to the fight itself but focuses a lot of the relationship between Cal and Riley who reminded me of The Karate Kid despite having little in common.

The Longshot is a quick read and probably isn't going to go down in history as one of the all time great sports novels. However, this book is a great read for MMA fans who really don't have a lot to choose from in terms of entertainment revolving around the sport other than watching it on TV. Sports fans who aren't familiar with MMA can find something to enjoy with this book as well.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tom Hinkle on August 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Cal is an MMA fighter attempting to make a comeback after losing to the overpowering Rivera a few years back. However, Cal is the only fighter that Rivera has not knocked out. Cal's coach, Riley, has arranged a rematch. In the intervening years, Rivera has gotten stronger and more invincible.

This may sound like another Rocky-type story, but it's much more than that. The match is actually beside the point; at its heart this is a story about the relationship between coach Riley and Cal, his fighter. There is much of what seems to be mundane pre-fight activity; the trips between the Tijuana hotel room and the gym, eating in coffee shops, etc. It's obvious that Riley cares very much about Cal. It's also obvious that Riley sees the writing on the wall and sees that Cal, at an "old" 29, is on his way out, and he is trying to scout out the "next big thing," whom he finds at Rivera's new gym in San Diego.

There is a point where Riley and, likely Cal, realize that a victory in this match is impossible. Or is it?

The sharp prose and the characterizations make this a book worth reading.
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