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Cut Time: An Education at the Fights Hardcover – August 5, 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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 Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; 1st edition (August 5, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618145338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618145331
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,919,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By R. Sohi on November 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
In the introduction to his collection of essays, Carlo Rotella notes that boxing can "teach...lessons...about the virtues and limits of craft, about the need to impart meaning to hard facts by enfolding them in stories and spectacle, about getting hurt and getting old, about distance and intimacy, and especially about education itself: boxing conducts an endless workshop in the teaching and learning of knowledge with consequences." Through the nine essays that follow, he explores the ways in which pain and the mastery of a craft can intersect, in the process creating vivid portrayals of former heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes, several other boxers of varying skill from the distant and recent past, a fellow boxing afficionado, who has survived a brutal car accident, and his late grandmother during the last years of her life. The essays take the sport away from both the glamour and squalor where most boxing writers target their focus. Instead Rotella uses the subject to give us a poignant reminder of how acquiring wisdom comes at the price of overcoming adversity. He also shows depth in his knowledge of the mechanics of boxing as he describes the subtle shifts in the action of a fight in a way that most writers miss.

The insights to be found in this book are simple but wise. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys thoughtful heartfelt writing that quietly says something about the way we live our lives.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was foisted upon me by a friend who's a big boxing enthusiast. I read it only because I knew him to be a good judge of quality literature, and I wasn't disappointed. I came away from reading Cut Time with a far greater appreciation of the sweet science, yet also with a heightened antipathy for the sport. While I don't share Rotella's love for boxing, I have nothing but admiration for his writing. The prose is as tight, sharp, and powerful as Tommy Hearns in his prime, and the characterization of Larry Holmes -- among other pugilists -- is beautifully done. Cut Time is one of the best books I've read all year.
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Format: Paperback
Just like Robert Anasi's book "The Gloves" was a great look inside the mind of people who get in the ring, "Cut Time" is a great look at the people around the ring. He takes a deep, honest look at everybody from a photographer forced to work from the nosebleed section (who start offs bitter but ends up star struck, pretty funny stuff), to a ref covered in other people's blood but lets the fight continue, to a judge with a dangerous day job who shows respect to an out-of-town fighter by not bleeping him over (and these are just the minor charactors who grabbed my attention). It's a good flowing read with intelligence, humor and intelligent humor.
It's a collection of essays, each about 25 pages long. Not something you have to read in one sitting.
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By A Customer on July 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Rotella is a great ethnographer; i'm not a boxing enthusiast but this book exposed me to a deeper side of boxing - a sport where people feel, dream, fail, and persevere. A good read!
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