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Coulda Been A Contender
on 24 July 2008
The Dark Trade could have been one of the four or five truly great books about boxing. It covers a fascinating period in the sport's history, especially in the UK, with the golden era of Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and the massively talented but ultimately tragic Michael Watson.
Only FX Toole, Leonard Gardener and Joyce Carol Oates can recreate the visceral excitement of a live bout on the page as well as McCrae can.
So why only three stars? Well, the author fell in love sometime between researching the book and writing it. And he writes the object of his affections into the book. Not as a bit player, but as a fully-formed character. Domestic details abound. Pages and pages of it. This has next to nothing whatsoever to do with the book, per se. (Oh, ok, she does a great Eubank impersonation - but so does my uncle) While I was very happy for the author, I really wish he'd kept this stuff to himself, because he ruined what was otherwise an absolutely superb book.