FLESH & BLOOD by Pete Hamill


Email this review


She backed away, and you opened the packages, and found a yellow scarf and two multicolored shirts and a dark blue turtleneck sweater./ You said: Hey, these are great./ I hope they're the right size, she said. Hey, you look great./ Yeah, they're the right size, look./ You held the turtleneck against your chest and smiled at her and she smiled at you. It was the right size."" Remember Hemingway's parody of Sherwood Anderson's primitivism in The Torrents of Spring? Well, that's as close as Hamill's numb saga of a mother-loving prizefighter (Rocky Goes to Incest?) gets to the early Hemingway style. And the narcissistic, pretentious persona shifts for narrator-hero Bobby Fallon--sometimes he's ""I,"" sometimes (as above) ""You""--keep this simple story from a simple, affecting telling. Young Bobby's the son of Jack Fallon, a gambler and bar-brawler known throughout Brooklyn as a guy who had heart (tireless courage). But Jack deserted the family. When shiftless Bobby becomes a ring star--from prison scuffles (defending himself against the ""Fagola Army"") to Golden Gloves and up--he moves into Dad's place in Mom's tenement bed. Mom--Kate--is only 38, after all, drinks Carstairs, likes Sinatra in the wee small hours of the morning, and tells Bobby that the pill makes everything okay. But on the weekend of the Big Title Shot in Vegas, Dad returns and wants Mom back. So Bobby goes into the ring to fight ""the greatest single round in the history of pugilism,"" as Howard Cosell later tells him. Journalist Hamill knows fighters and sure knows Brooklyn--and this second novel is bound to do well among New Yorkers who like to go slumming--but, as an old Brooklyn sage once said: He who puts on airs goes down for the count.

Pub Date: Nov. 21st, 1977
Publisher: Random House