Grub Smith

He Was Black Once

On Boxing

By Joyce Carol Oates

Bloomsbury 118 pp £9.95 order from our bookshop

It is curious to say the least that Joyce Carol Oates should try to write a book about boxing. She is a small, timid-looking professor of English at Princeton who admits to being squeamish, and also the author of novels and short stories which have been compared to Anita Brookner’s for their delicacy of feeling. Most outlandish of all, of course, she is a woman, and these are rare visitors to the rope and canvas world of Frank ‘The Animal’ Fletcher (‘ I hate to say it but it’s true, I only like it better when pain comes’) and Mike ‘Iron Man’ Tyson (‘I try to catch my opponent on the tip of his nose, because I try to punch the bone into his brain’). Hotel du Lac it is not.

Great writers have often been drawn to boxing as a setting for stories of low life and hard luck, but they are nearly always

Sara Stewart


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