The author lands verbal jabs that deftly complement the often ruthless action he describes.

In the Cheap Seats


A collection of essays explores the “sweet science” of boxing and its unique culture.

Capturing the “poetry” of one of the most brutal of sports might seem like an oxymoron. But Toledo’s (The Gods of War, 2014) book is a largely successful attempt to do just that for boxing, his collection of essays a testament to both the primeval power and the pugilistic purity of the “sweet science.” “The iconic figure of the boxer speaks to anyone who struggles; which is to say he speaks to all of us,” Toledo writes. “Prone, he tells us we’re not alone. Rising, whether in victory or just to beat the count, he tells us we can too.” The author provides vivid accounts of fights featuring everyone from legendary champions such as Roy Jones, Manny Pacquiao, and Floyd Mayweather to lesser-known boxers like “Hammerin’ Hank” Lundy, Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin, and “the American Nightmare.” Toledo is as adept with technical analysis—the master boxer “uses pizazz punctuated by jabs to con his opponent into a pace and rhythm designed to sap his spirit”—as he is with physical description. One out-of-shape fighter’s torso “had the consistency of a week-old party balloon,” Ukrainian heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has “the face of Kiev or Peski between shellings,” and a welterweight is “short and wide like an image in a funhouse mirror.” The author also sees the metaphorical possibilities of boxing, comparing the violent history of New York City to the “visceral” style of Jack Dempsey. “The city’s aggression is innate....In NYC, everyone is Dempsey,” he writes. In changing the narrative of a fight, an aging Mexican boxer “suggested that we can change our own narratives—our own ultimately dismal expectations—as we contend half blind against mauling life and marching time.” In these well-written, sharply observed essays, the author may sometimes go a bit overboard in his ruminations, suggesting at one point that “the boxer is a proxy preparing the way for all of us.” But with his passion and precision, Toledo becomes a worthy successor to such vaunted boxing writers as A.J. Liebling and Bert Sugar.

The author lands verbal jabs that deftly complement the often ruthless action he describes.

Pub Date: Feb. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9543924-6-8

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Tora Book Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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