‘Tremendous’ Geoff Dyer
‘A pitch-perfect account of boxing, blue-collar bewilderment and the battle of the sexes’ San Francisco Chronicle
A major cult film directed by John Huston
Stockton, California: a town of dark bars and lunchrooms, cheap hotels and farm labourers scratching a living. When two men meet in the Lido Gym – the ex-boxer Billy Tully and the novice Ernie Munger – their brief sparring session sets a fateful story in motion, initiating young Munger into the “company of men” and luring Tully back into training.
Fat City is a vivid novel of defiance and struggle, of the potent promise of the good life and the desperation and drink that waylay those whom it eludes. This acclaimed American classic tells of their anxieties and hopes, their loves and losses, and the ephemeral glory of the fight.
A classic story about pugilists and poverty in 1950s California hits hard nearly five decades on -- Nicholas Lezard Guardian The most beautifully written book... It's bleak but it's saved from being unrelenting bleakness by the beauty of the writing. Not a single word is wasted and Gardner here paints a very visceral picture of the despair but also the hope they just might make it out... It's a stunner RTE Arena A terrific read Irish Times Tremendous -- Geoff Dyer A brass-knuckle sucker punch of a novel Paris Review Fat City, Leonard Gardner's pitch-perfect account of boxing, blue-collar bewilderment and the battle of the sexes, is cause for celebration, and reflection San Francisco Chronicle A slim, taut book that has earned its status as a classic by dint of its immaculate, evocative prose, a compassionate but dour view of the human condition, and the absolute credibility of its depiction of the sport of the busted beaks...It is seductive, engaging, and lit, despite the odds, by a vitality that is in itself a form of hope. We come away from it burnt clean Slate Gardner has got it exactly right... but he has done more than just get it down, he has made it a metaphor for the joyless in heart -- Joan Didion Gardner has laid claim to a locale that others have explored, but seldom with such accuracy and control... in a tone that is both detached and lyrical. The triumph of the book is its action. Running, fighting, loving, weeding, harvesting, these men stay in motion in order not to be doomed. So powerfully does Gardner record their actions that we recall their lives, not their defeats New York Times Book Review Really a superior performance... Gardner takes us into the bitter fancies of two professional prizefighters... the first is a has-been, the second is learning to lose. A third character, their manager, links the pair in defeat and frustration... Gardner strips them of everything except the most important thing: their singularity... of such a seemingly small gift is dignity born and success measured Newsweek The stories of Ernie Munger, a young fighter with frail but nevertheless burning hopes, and Billy Tully, an older pug with bad luck in and out of the ring, parallel one another through the book. Though the two men hardly meet, the tale blends the perspective on them until they seem to chart a single life of missteps and baffled love, Ernie its youth and Tully its future. I wanted to write a book like that -- Denis Johnson In his pity and art Gardner moves beyond race, beyond guilt and punishment, as Twain and Melville did, into a tragic forgiveness. I have seldom read a novel as beautiful and individual as this one -- Ross MacDonald Leonard Gardner wrote Fat City as a moody elegy to the wayward dreamers who fight in tank-town arenas, then retreat to flophouses and shotgun weddings, day labor and rotgut drinking binges Los Angeles Times Flawlessly rendered, unforgettable Joyce Carol Oates
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