Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Barfighter by Ivan G. Goldman

In December I was selected to be an Early Reviewer on LibraryThing, which means I got a free advanced copy of a book I chose in exchange for a 25+ word review of it. I was giddy when I got the message because there are usually about 1000 people requesting a book, and there are, say, only 15 copies of it. So I never thought I would get one!

I requested this book because I enjoy the sport of boxing. When we first moved to Phoenix I trained to be an amateur boxing official. I wanted to be a referee, but first you have to be a judge. Once I started learning about judging I decided I would like that more than being a referee. But once I became a teacher I didn't have enough time to continue, and that was the end of the pursuit of being a boxing judge...for now. But I still like to watch boxing. Last year my favorite fight was Pacquiao vs. Marquez in March. Pacquiao won in a split decision. I watched the fight again in December and I still couldn't say for sure who won.


At first I had trouble getting into this book. Some of the character descriptions seem to be centered around racial and socio-economic stereotypes. The book begins in 1984, so maybe the writer was trying to capture the mindset of people at the time? Also the timeline of the story at the beginning is a little confusing. Putting aside the Vietnam flashbacks sprinkled in, the first chapter takes place in May 1984, then the third chapter goes back to February 1984, and the rest of the book comes after May 1984. In my opinion it should have just been put in order because the May 84 chapter is the weakest and there's no clear reason why it's out of order.

However, it is clear that Ivan G. Goldman knows boxing. His descriptions of boxing matches made me feel I was sitting there watching each punch. A few of the matches were a quick paragraph summary, and since the fights were the best parts I wished he had described them fully. People who love boxing will like the behind-the-scenes look into the dirty world of the sport that's not just a game, and they will like this book.

This book also counts for the What's In a Name Challenge. It's my book with a "profession" in its title.

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