Book #18 – Rope Burns by F.X. Toole
My girl’s club membership card is going to be revoked soon. According to my "Stupid Book Facts" spreadsheet I’ve only read two books by women thus far this year and here I am admitting that I just finished a book of stories about boxing. I’m reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird next, that’s got to help balance it all, right? Yeah, probably not. Oh well.
From the back of the book:
"F.X. Toole was a trainer and licensed cut man in the world of professional boxing. He was seventy when Rope Burns, his first book, was published, and had been writing and battling rejection letters for forty years. He died two years later, in 2002."
Something to keep in mind next time I’m I bemoan being in this profession a mere 10-ish years with more paper incoming than outgoing.
My edition of this book was put out to coincide with he release of the movie Million Dollar Baby. Toole wrote the short story/novella and it’s included in this collection. And while it is a very good story (and the movie was faithful to it), "Rope Burns," for which the collection was originally entitled, is the crown jewel of the book. Toole weaves the story of a black Olympic-hopeful boxer and his white trainer against the background of the LA riots.
Toole’s writing is solid. He knows his stuff and he does a wonderful job of putting actions into words. From a craft point of view, I’m going to spend some time in the future picking apart his fight scenes. I’m terrible with action and there’s much to learn. My one criticism of the collection was that some of the details surrounding the fight business are repetitive. It was a relief to hit "Rope Burns" which is more about the fighters and less about the fights.