Wednesday 17 January 2018

Quality prose aids lowdown on MMA

Dean Goodison: Book Review


Hmm, this is a difficult one. Having read all 279 pages of Kerry Howley's offering 'Thrown' it's hard to actually fall on one side of the recommend it or not fence.

Firstly, I'm not quite sure if I liked it. Secondly, I don't even know if I enjoyed it. On the other hand, I didn't 'not' likeit and I certainly didn't 'not' enjoy it. It's undoubtedly different from your average sports book.

The author uses a semi-fictionalised character called 'Kit', a native of Baraboo, Wisconsin living in Iowa in the United States midwest region, to tell her real life story of shadowing - which she inventively refers to as spacetaking - two very different men involved in the increasingly popular sport of Mixed Martial Arts or MMA.

Howley's rationale for the use of Kit is that all first person accounts contain elements of fiction anyway so why not embrace it? It's a peculiar way to write a book and works insofar as the reader does want to find out what happens to her subjects, journeyman Sean Huffman and up-and-comer Erik Koch.

The problem with semi-fictionalising the storyteller is that the reader must now decide how much of the book they believe to be real and how much comes from massaging of the facts. If the whole publication is presented as non-fiction we, the reader, do not doubt the validity of the content unless we are given reason to.

Having said that, is this book anything more than a run of the mill publication without Kit's personality seeping through on every page? Probably not.

What there is absolutely no doubt about is the exceptionally high quality of the prose.

The words bounce off the page if not always slip off the tongue. Howley's mastery of the English language is a beautiful thing but it will undoubtedly put off a certain percentage of the target market. The best showcase of this talent is to recite Kit's view of the humble sports journalist whom she describes as 'adipose malcontents keyboard-pecking from the comfort of their mothers' basements'.

Like the above selection there's plenty of smile-along, humorous diatribes to keep the reader attentive and chuckling but it's the sport of Mixed Martial Arts that gets a shot in the arm from the content of the book.

Confession time. Before reading this MMA was not a sport I had any particular interest in. I've flicked it on several times over the last number of years only to last 30 seconds before finding a sport where only the ball is taking a beating.

This publication is not going to change that in you either but it does frame MMA in a light that is, in general, positive. Indeed, Kit's connection with the intricacies of the sport becomes so strong, and so perfectly displayed in text, that a fan of any sport couldn't help but appreciate the sentiment.

Whether to buy it or not? If you are a lover of MMA then I'd advise popping in to The Book Centre and having a peek at the first chapter. Read a page or two and if you don't want to pull your hair out then you will gain plenty from this book.

For the fan of the seemingly disappearing art of flowery prose, then this is worth the money.

Howley's use of language is exceptional and most English language enthusiasts will surely need to pick up the Oxford English every now and then.

The general fan of sports literature might be in the same boat as myself.

Not entirely sure how much you like or enjoy it. However, you can not fail to take something out of your reading of 'Thrown'.

Visit The Book Centre on Wexford's Main Street for the very best selection of sports books.

Wexford People

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