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The Longshot MP3 CD – 11 Aug 2009
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""The Longshot" takes the reader into the minds, hearts, and bodies of two highly dedicated and taciturn men. Kitamura's descriptions of mixed-martial-arts fighting are brutal yet beautiful....Her writing is spellbinding...in its power. Kitamura is a genuine discovery." -- "Booklist," starred review
"In her debut novel, The Longshot, Katie Kitamura delivers the reader into the exotic, bruising, and hypermasculine world of mixed martial arts with startling economy and even more startling insight...Kitamura excels at slicing and dicing to build tension. Hers is a dry-eyed viewpoint expressed through detail so sharp freeze-frames seem to turn kinetic. One lesson of The Longshot is you must fulfill your commitments, if only to find out what you're made of. Another is that Kitamura is a major talent." -- Boston Globe
"The Longshot takes the reader into the minds, hearts, and bodies of two highly dedicated and taciturn men. Kitamura's descriptions of mixed-martial-arts fighting are brutal yet beautiful....Her writing is spellbinding...in its power. Kitamura is a genuine discovery." -- Booklist, starred review
"If you're planning to get into the ring with the heavyweights of boxing lit (A.J. Liebling's The Sweet Science, Leonard Gardner's Fat City), you need a knockout hook. Katie Kitamura, in her debut novel, has one." -- Entertainment Weekly
"Katie Kitamura has produced a lean, taut little novel as authentic as any sport could hope to have represent it. The Longshot, her debut effort, reads the way we imagine the best fighters to be: quiet, measured, self-assured, always thinking ahead...[with] a fierce sense of elegance." -- The Daily Beast
"An extraordinary novel from a major new talent. In taut, pared-down prose, Kitamura takes the reader right into the ring." -- Hari Kunzru, author of The Impressionist
"This is a terrific debut: charged, intimate, raw. Here is an author who not only understands the alloying of muscle and mentality in sport, the elation and heartbreak of competition, and of life, but can also write about it all with compassion and beautiful austerity." -- Sarah Hall, author of The Electric Michelangelo
"Hemingway's returned to life -- and this time, he's a woman." -- Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder
"With refreshingly unadorned prose, Kitamura reduces to an intensely crystalline moment the tension surrounding a fighter and his coach as they prepare for a match. Kitamura's language sticks to the page with a delightful monocular clarity that invites readers to enter into the minds of these two men. The Longshot gives readers a rare glimpse into an intriguing world." -- Yannick Murphy, author of Signed, Mata Hari
"Back in the day, we'd have wondered how a woman -- a woman! -- could know so much about this brutally masculine world. The marvel today is that Katie Kitamura can write about it with such grace, compassion, and breezy confidence. She knows her way around the ring and the human heart." -- Elizabeth Benedict, author of The Practice of Deceit --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Katie Kitamura has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times and The Guardian (London). She served as Creative Consultant on the documentaries The Pervert&#8217;s Guide to Cinema (2006) and The Pervert&#8217;s Guide to Ideology (forthcoming). Kitamura lives in London and New York City. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The debut novella is essentially a spare, two-hander considering ex-fighter and trainer Riley and a once-exciting young prospect, Cal, who arrive in Tijuana to fight a long-delayed return match with Rivera, an undefeated and seemingly-indestructible fighter. Following this earlier defeat ‘Fighting was never easy again. He took some losses. He sat and waited for his head to get back into the game. He waited fight after fight and then it hit him how long he’d been waiting’. The sport is a bestial one and this is reflected in the story which takes place over the 3 days running up to the fight. Whilst the author is deeply knowledgeable about the almost choreographic moves that may fly over the heads of most readers, these and the resulting violence are always placed at the service of her narrative. Unlike Hemingway and Mailer, she does not glory in the violence.
Instead, the book focuses on the relationship between the two men as the enormity of the bout and its possible consequences become starker. The novella portrays the depth and psychological complexity of the athlete/trainer relationship, the monastic devotion to training and the financial and social pressures on young to dedicate their lives to the sport. Neither man is a talker and the book beautifully integrates their internal musings and talk about the fight. The style is one of short, sharp sentences, attacks almost, with few long words. ‘Up until then [Cal] had seen only one half of the game. He had only seen the winning half. When you stayed in the winning half you could see the game in a certain way. When you dropped into the other half the game looked different. It looked real. You saw that you could get hurt. Being in the ring became different after that’.
Katie Kitamura carries the reader along, into an almost completely male world where women appear fleetingly. Riley sees an incredibly young talent, from Rivera’s stable ‘Well, it was something. Seeing what the next generation was going to look like. He thought about it and then re realized how old he was. How old Cal was. The numbers just hit him in the face. It was like the game had past both of them’.
On the morning of the fight, Cal takes a long early walk to gather himself together. ‘He came across a bunch of old women cleaning the sidewalks. They were throwing pails of water onto the ground and then they were sweeping up the water with long wooden brooms. They moved out of the way as he walked by. He nodded hello. The nodded back. He stepped through the water. When he had passed they continue sweeping. He could here the swishing of the brooms and the splash of water’.
Later, when they arrive at the venue, ‘Cal stopped. He had time for the fans. All fighters had time for the fans. It wasn’t about vanity or ego. The fans saw the fighters. They saw them as they really were in the ring. They reminded them of what they really were, in the ring. They reminded them of what they were capable of doing. Before a fight, the fans were just about the best world coming….. He signed things. He said hey. He posed for pictures. Riley stayed by his side. He didn’t move an inch’.
As Cal heads to the ring, ‘His head was light. His body was light. It was the detail that was doing it. Everywhere there was detail. He placed his hands on the ropes. The grain of the rope, each individual piece of ribbing – just the touch was enough to burn him. His toe brushed against the canvas, and he felt the give of the ground against the tug of the nail. It wasn’t just the rope and canvas. He could feel the detail in everything’.
Cal lacks the invincibility of Rivera; he has doubts, as does Riley. How they contain those while preparing for the fight constitutes much of the drama of this wonderful debut. This is a remarkable debut made more so be the assured way Kitamura gets inside the heads of Cal and Riley. It is a short read but an inspiring one and not, I cannot repeat this too much, not just for fans of [violent] sport. I look forward to her forthcoming work with great interest.
The book is well written and flows nicely and is in the main a detailed character study of Cal and Riley as well as the ever present Rivera.
The plot is simple, Cal is facing a rematch against the legendary Rivera, four years in the making. UP until the moment he steps into the ring he is confident he will be alright, after all he is the only man whom Rivera has failed to knock out. He realises as soon as he steps into the ring that Rivera means business.
I know nothing about the world of fighting but the way the preparations are described are convincing and compelling, the weigh in and buzz from journalists, the crowd filling the arena ratchet up the tension before the fight begins. As a reader you certainly begin to share in Cal's emotions and will him on, the fight itself is brutal and described in detail.
On the surface the novel may seem to be just a description of a fighter preparing for the most crucial fight of his career but look deeper and you will see that the fight is how Cal and Rivera and Riley judge their own success and failures, what it means to have to let go of your dreams and how things change as we grow older.
A great debut novel that I would recommend.
Excellent debut worthy of its 5 stars.