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

4.2 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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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.)
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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Original edition (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439107521
  • ASIN: B003E7ETYE
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,218,778 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
THE LONG SHOT is one of those rare books that comes out of nowhere and just completely surprises you. I chose the book from the Vine program because, frankly, I wasn't all that into the other books that were available and this one was about something I very much enjoy: MMA. But to say that this book is about MMA is like saying THE WRESTLER is about wrestling. In both cases, sport serves as a setting in which to tell a very human story of survival. It is the story of someone who has been doing something for so long he begins to wonder if it was worth it, if the sacrifices and the pain and the missed opportunities amount to something significant.

For a first novel, LONG SHOT is very well written. The dialogue flows nicely and some of the exchanges between fighter and trainer are brief, but insightful and rewarding. New authors often tend to overpower the early efforts with too much dialogue or too much prose trying to describe every minute detail. But here, Kitamura proves a quick study. The book takes place over a short time period (3 days), clocks in at just 190 pages, and keeps the dialogue and descriptiveness on a need-to-know basis, allowing the reader to fill in the blanks with their own imaginations.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who's interested in MMA as there is a nice level of authenticity that feels like the reader is truly getting a peek behind the curtain in what is becoming the fastest growing sport in the world. It would also be a good read for anyone who enjoys character studies, especially ones that involve people looking back on their lives trying to derive meaning from their actions, a truly powerful experience.
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