Pound for Pound.

Position:Book review

*** 1/2

Pound for Pound By F. X. Toole

A cut man's swan song.

Dan Cooley isn't exactly washed up, but he's long past his days in the boxing ring. He has forged a living by training fighters in his Los Angeles gym, but that quickly unravels when a tragic turn of events involving his grandson sends Cooley on an alcohol-fueled road trip with no destination. Chicky Garza is also fighting for his life as an amateur boxer in Texas. Awed by the boxing legacy of his grandfather and undermined by the inequities of the fight game, Garza sets out for Los Angeles to be trained by an old foe of his granddad: Dan Cooley.

Ecco. 384 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 006088133X

Hartford Courant ***

"Those who know of Toole only through [Million Dollar Baby's] muted tones will be stunned to discover that his first and final novel, Pound for Pound, pulses with energy and life.... He renders a vivid depiction of a sport so far beyond corrupt that only the naive bother to question the dishonesty any more, and only the fortunate escape with their lives and faces unharmed." MATT EAGAN

Oregonian ****

"There is plenty of pugilistic lore, but boxing is the setting, not the subject. For Toole the sport is a laboratory where human fiber is tested, dissected, and displayed under crisis conditions." KATHERINE DUNN

Charlotte Observer *** 1/2

"He's also the most illuminating fiction writer I know when describing the skills and chicanery of the fight game." LAWRENCE TOPPMAN

Seattle Times *** 1/2

"[Pound for Pound is] an engaging, sometimes riveting book that also includes long swaths of prose that sound almost like notes for a novel." RICHARD WAKEFIELD

USA Today *** 1/2

"Pound for Pound is more sprawling and ultimately less tragic than Million Dollar Baby but shares many of the same themes and attention to sweet and sweaty details.... The most vivid character is Dan Cooley, an...

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