Pound for Pound


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4 out of 5

Pound for Pound is a big novel in the truest sense of the word, a story of family, honor, perseverance, and forgiveness. Set in towns where violence is the norm and success stories take on an almost mythic importance, it tells of grandfathers and grandsons—older men for whom life has not been easy and the young men who look to them for guidance —and reveals the transformative power of that relationship. Dan Cooley, an aging but legendary Los Angeles trainer, takes on a troubled young fighter named Chicky Garza, hungry to make a name for himself in the San Antonio boxing circuit, which is rife with crime and corruption. The bond between them grows more powerful than the obstacles they face, ultimately reviving in each man the courage it takes to triumph both in and out of the ring.

This masterful, posthumous novel follows Toole’s remarkable fiction debut, Rope Burns (recently published in paperback as Million Dollar Baby), which earned comparisons to Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Carver, and Frank McCourt, and which became an Academy Award-winning film four years after publication. As James Ellroy says in the foreword, “F. X. Toole did not live to visit the set or hug the stars at the premiere. The rumor was true. He had a bum ticker.” It is a tragedy that the world will not hear more from F. X. Toole, but Pound for Pound is a novel that any writer would be proud to leave behind, marking his place in the world of letters.


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