Monday, October 8, 2012

Million Dollar Baby

F.X. Toole
Million Dollar Baby

Open Road Media ebook, 2012
(originally published in 2000)

Toole was a trainer and cut man, and boxing was his passion and his profession. This book brings together flawlessly written stories about boxing, often interspersed with crime. If we reject all sports comparisons (Toole wins by knockout; Toole’s prose has more power than a right hook; this collection deserves the belt of the champion of all boxing organizations and associations; throw the towel - Toole is the best), you can gather up the hundreds of laudatory statements not related to boxing praising something about that masterful collection of stories. There is not a bad story there, and I have not read it perfect short story collections, where all the stories would be close to ideal, for maybe two years.

The characters in his stories, on whose behalf the story goes, as a rule, are aging men, devoted their lives to boxing. They've seen everything, they know even more about the game (and for professionals boxing is not a game, it’s business), and for them the boxing remains honest sport. Yeas, there are the corrupt players, cunning trainers, greedy promoters, but it is important to be honest, whatever happens around. Moral of many stories lays on the surface, but on the surface and the face of a fighter lays – hit and you get it.

Toole essentially writes production prose: he can for half a story analyze fighting techniques, or training heavyweight, or stop blood on dissection, but you read it and do not feel any fatigue. On the contrary – you feel delight, as if you are initiated into a secret that very few people see. When finished with the mechanics, Toole goes to biology - the fights, and around them mant plots are construdcted. And it should be said that the plots are perfected to the smallest detail.

What is more notable about this collection: most stories are written in first person. The story is told by semi-literate people, and therefore they’re written in the style of a street, as I hear so, I write so (it is possible to say the stories are written in so-called black people talk-style, but the narrator is usually white). Often when such a style device is selected, it's annoying. A writer’s trying to be closer to reality, but in fact he makes it difficult to read. Semiliterate speech does not bring together an author and a character, on the contrary, as if the writer is laughing at retarded character. Toole’s street language is seamlessly woven into the narrative that says only one simple thing: most of the boxers are really uneducated and illiterate people - but they have different skills and dignity.

«Million Dollar Baby» is a first-rate collection. Perhaps the best thing I've read about boxing. And yes, it guaranteed kicks a tear.

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