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In the Cheap Seats

BOXING ESSAYS

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

Awards & Accolades

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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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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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