movies, music and everything else

This blog is about pretty much what the title implies... movies, music and everything else.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I like movies, music and everything esle... ; ) oh... and i can't spell, so, please, no comments

Thursday, April 06, 2006

million dollar book?

another one from...

F.X. Toole originally entitled his book ROPE BURNS, but since the success of Clint Eastwood’s movie it’s been republished as MILLION DOLLAR BABY: STORIES FROM THE CORNER. It is a collection of six short stories, three of which served as the basis for the film. Now, this is something I’ve only been able to say one other time; the movie was better than the book. Not that the book was bad, it just wasn’t all that good.

There are a number of obstacles to readings this. The first of these is that it is a collection of short stories. This isn’t something that particularly bothers me, but I read short story collections all the time. However, it’s been my experience that few casual readers can say the same. It is just too easy to put it down. The individual stories are engaging, and you’ll want to finish them, but when you do you’ll set the book down and go about your day. You won’t be all that motivated to start a new story. This isn’t a problem isolated to Toole, it’s a little more widespread than that. It’s too bad because some of my favorite reads are collections of short stories. I you feel like giving short stories a try, I would recommend THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O’Brien, or one of Ron Carlson’s collections.

ROPE BURNS is comprised of six stories, half of which will be familiar to you already. They are not well written. They aren’t bad exactly just uninspiring and bare. F.X. Toole, a pseudonym thank god, is an old-school fight manager and cut man, and the prose reads very much as if it was written in locker rooms between bouts. That having been said, I did not put it down. The stories were compelling, and kept me engaged.

The narrators and protagonists are seasoned corner men, with grizzled visages and plain spoken, streetwise wisdom, which gets repetitive after a while. Even that didn’t make me put the book down. Despite its amateur nature, the book is real. The characters are utterly believable and act like genuine people. Toole, brings you into the world of boxing until you can smell the Vaseline and hear the slosh of the spit bucket. While it may not sound like a lot, this level of reality is rare and hard to capture, so I forgave everything else. So what if the writing was a little anemic? So what if some of the characters seemed? It felt real and I was engaged.

ROPE BURNS is what it is – a book written by a fight manager – and while he might not be a great writer, it turns out the ex-cut man is a hell of a story teller.


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