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Customer Review

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boxing's SUN ALSO RISES, June 27, 2002
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This review is from: The Professional (Paperback)
If you're going to read THE PROFESSIONAL written by the great sports writer W.C. Heinz (who also wrote MASH), skip the foreward by Elmore Leonard until you've read the book. The ditz gives away the ending.
Other than that, the book is pretty much what one might expect after reading the blurb by Hemingway: "THE PROFESSIONAL is the only good novel about a fighter I've read and an excellent novel in its own right." It reminded me a whole lot of THE SUN ALSO RISES. Rather than the minutia of fishing and bullfighting we get boxing: how to wrap a fighter's hands, how the fighter eats during training (Lots of tea and boiled eggs), how to fake a missed right hand, followed by a left hook. All of this is narrated by a somewhat cynical sports writer named Frank Hughes, who follows middle weight fighter Eddie Brown around as he prepares for a championship bout. Eddie is the professional in the title. He's fought ninety times, losing only three, one of which his manager, Doc Carroll, set him up to lose because he was becoming too cocky. W.C. Heinz has a pretty good reason for entitling the book, THE PROFESSIONAL. Carroll resents the champion because he's pretty much all glitz and show. At one point Heinz has his narrator say, "The amateurs have always crowded the highways to everywhere, so it's never been easy for the pros to get through."
I've never been a big Hemingway fan, but this book is chock full of interesting minor characters. There's Eddie's "cold fish" of a wife. There's Johnny Jay, the trainer, a non-stop talker who never makes a whole lot of sense, but is tolerated because he was Doc Carroll's first fighter. There's Al Penna, who steals a ring off a dead man's finger. But my favorite is Jean Girot the recovering alcoholic who owns the hotel at the training camp. He's sad because he misses his favorite drink, the dry martini, which he took nips from out of a milk bottle.
If you're looking for an action packed novel, this one's not for you. There's really only one fight scene and that's at the end when Eddie fights for the title; but if you're tired of the "same old same old" THE PROFESSIONAL fits the bill.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 31, 2009 7:57:43 PM PDT
MASH, the book was written by Richard Hooker. Ad the screenplay for the film by Ring Lardner, Jr., not Mr. Heinz!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 14, 2012 8:53:53 PM PDT
J. Wales says:
Neil, do not be too sure of your knowledge and do not be cocky by using an exclamation point. Richard Hooker was the pseudonym of W C Heinz. Google it to find out more. W C Heinz did indeed co-author the novel MASH.

In reply to an earlier post on May 26, 2013 7:22:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 26, 2013 7:26:46 PM PDT
On the third hand . . . Richard Hooker was the pseudonym of Richard Hornberger, who wrote M*A*S*H, but W.C. Heinz collaborated.

Also, my thanks go to Mr. Schwinghammer for his "spoiler alert" warning. If a later commentator has something to say about a classic book that involves introducing plot spoilers, there is a perfectly good word for that: Afterword.

Posted on Dec 22, 2015 11:17:22 AM PST
I would contend that several characters are actually professionals, which is why they seem to bond. They have different professions, but each in his own way exemplifies the ideal, while a number of non-professionals flit past in cameos, to offer up a contrast. I'm actually intrigued that the book offers an oblique comment on race relations, i.e. that the way to get past our differences is for each of us to become professional and respect each other's professionalism. In the story, professionalism trumps the differences one sees in the various characters.
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