Not quite a KO, but an engaging story of a fighter that wins on points.

BECOMING HOLYFIELD

A FIGHTER’S JOURNEY

It’s not easy being champion, declares Holyfield, who has been heavyweight champ four times and held the undisputed cruiserweight title for years.

He started winning at the age of eight—more than a decade before he first met his father. After Golden Gloves contests, wins at the 1983 Pan American Games and a controversial bronze medal at the 1984 Olympics (he missed out on the gold due to a contested disqualification), “The Real Deal,” as he was dubbed, turned pro as a cruiserweight. Soon he bulked up enough to become one of smallest heavyweights in the business, always going for a knockout, the outcome that can never be argued. He was, and is, a professional, hardworking athlete, savvy and cool in the ring, frequently withstanding punishing pain. Holyfield assigns due credit to his people and blames only himself for losses. He even concedes that his 1999 fight with Lennox Lewis, which ended in a draw, could well have gone to the other guy. Presented with the aid of novelist and sportswriter Gruenfeld (The Street, 2001, etc.), the boxer’s memoir covers his born-again religion, his family, marital and extramarital encounters, childrearing, business practices, money and a misdiagnosed heart defect. The book’s main interest lies in Holyfield’s take on such memorable encounters as the Fan Man Fight, interrupted by a parachutist in the ring, or the Bite Fight, in which he lent a bit of an ear to Iron Mike Tyson. Boxing fans will especially relish his appraisal of such formidable opponents as Riddick Bowe, Larry Holmes, Lennox Lewis and George Foreman as well as Tyson. Holyfield’s ticket to fight in New York has been revoked, with allegedly “diminishing skills” cited as the reason. Now 45, ignoring well-meaning pleas for his retirement, the old Warrior continues to box. It’s his call, he says.

Not quite a KO, but an engaging story of a fighter that wins on points.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4165-3486-0

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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The book begins in Sri Lanka with the tsunami of 2004—a horror the author saw firsthand, and the aftermath of which he...

LIVES OTHER THAN MY OWN

The latest from French writer/filmmaker Carrère (My Life as a Russian Novel, 2010, etc.) is an awkward but intermittently touching hybrid of novel and autobiography.

The book begins in Sri Lanka with the tsunami of 2004—a horror the author saw firsthand, and the aftermath of which he describes powerfully. Carrère and his partner, Hélène, then return to Paris—and do so with a mutual devotion that's been renewed and deepened by all they've witnessed. Back in France, Hélène's sister Juliette, a magistrate and mother of three small daughters, has suffered a recurrence of the cancer that crippled her in adolescence. After her death, Carrère decides to write an oblique tribute and an investigation into the ravages of grief. He focuses first on Juliette's colleague and intimate friend Étienne, himself an amputee and survivor of childhood cancer, and a man in whose talkativeness and strength Carrère sees parallels to himself ("He liked to talk about himself. It's my way, he said, of talking to and about others, and he remarked astutely that it was my way, too”). Étienne is a perceptive, dignified person and a loyal, loving friend, and Carrère's portrait of him—including an unexpectedly fascinating foray into Étienne and Juliette's chief professional accomplishment, which was to tap the new European courts for help in overturning longtime French precedents that advantaged credit-card companies over small borrowers—is impressive. Less successful is Carrère's account of Juliette's widower, Patrice, an unworldly cartoonist whom he admires for his fortitude but seems to consider something of a simpleton. Now and again, especially in the Étienne sections, Carrère's meditations pay off in fresh, pungent insights, and his account of Juliette's last days and of the aftermath (especially for her daughters) is quietly harrowing.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9261-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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