Read The Wrestler's Cruel Study by Stephen Dobyns Free Online
Book Title: The Wrestler's Cruel Study|
Date of issue: February 17th 1995
ISBN 13: 9780393312126
The author of the book: Stephen Dobyns
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 492 KB
Edition: W. W. Norton Company
Read full description of the books The Wrestler's Cruel Study:If two and a half stars were possible that's what I'd give this book. But hell...it's not so I'll curve it up to three. Here's what I liked:
It's written in the third person omniscient but often makes mention to "you" or "we" or "us", especially when it comes to establishing location:
"We are focused on a brown, gelatinous substance and we see strange movements from within its depths. It contains in fact various shades of brown with a blackness at the center. The movements seem caused by powerful currents pushing the blackness from side to side. Let us move back a little. The substance assumes and orb-like shape surrounded by a ring of pink, then a textured whiteness. Could it be one of those globes with which Gypsies tell the future? What is happening? Not only are we looking into this brown orb but it seems to be looking at us. We move back a little further and find we are staring into the eye of a horse. The eyelid closes, then opens. The great pupil shifts from right to left as if the beast were nervous. It tossed its head and we lose sight of the eye altogether. Here is a nostril. Here is a bridle of silver. We are still too close. We pull back twenty feet and there, seated upon a white horse, is Marduk the Magnificent."
"But let us go back and follow Wally Wallski's gaze toward the ugly gray building, as if his gaze made a tight rope and we were gliding along it. We move very quickly and have no fear of falling and in another moment we slide through an open window to discover a nurse and a figure swathed in bandages..."
Anyway...I guess I don't rightly know what you would call this style of narration (if anyone who might be reading this has an idea, please let me in on it) but I liked it and found it pretty comforting at times...maybe because it felt somehow "cinematic", I don't know...it certainly helped move the story along and painted a pretty picture of New York that was easy to navigate. This leads me to the second big plus about this book:
It creates this sort of "alternate universe" New York City that employs known entities (Madison Square Garden, Donald Trump, the Chrysler Building, Roosevelt/Smallpox Island) and mixes them with all of these fictional celebrities of wrestling and underworld-y freaks of nature. I'll stop there without giving too much away. Suffice to say that the NYC it created sometimes reminded me of both Kavalier and Clay and The Watchmen and that ain't too bad.
Now for the rough stuff. Dobyns takes what is at its roots a pretty simple yet interesting and engaging story and fluffs it up with pages and pages and pages of references to ancient tales of religion and philosophy...everything from Greek mythology to Paganism to Christianity and all sorts of beliefs in between that I don't know shit about or had even heard of half the time. I'm not saying that I wouldn't normally be curious about these sorts of things but he just flings them on the page with (what feels like) little regard for the reader. Ultimately it just weighs the story down without ever adding too much. That said, maybe it would all get a chuckle or two from a readers with a degree or two in Theology, Mythology or Astrology or whatever but I would have just as soon had him leave it out...it was enough to make it straddle the line between "OK" and "Good".
Thinking about it though, I may have just given it three stars without a thought had I not accidentally glanced at the first "Praise for" blurb on the back cover:
"I was reading this book on the treadmill at the YMCA and got laughing so hard at the three wrestling brothers (Prime Rib, Prime Rate, and Prime Time) that I had to get off. Dobyns writes wonderfully surreal prose - it's like John Irving, Joseph Heller, and Norman Bates all rolled into herpity dur durrr..."
- Stephen King
First of all, I have a hard time believing Stephen fucking King works out at the Y. Second, those three characters are in the book for like ONE CHAPTER (out of 36 with a few mentions thrown in here and there) and I'll be damned if they did anything even remotely funny. They were barely fleshed out at all. They were brothers, they had a couple of signature moves that they did in (and out) of the ring, and they drove a tricked out van...for like 12 pages. Dobyns must have a polaroid of of Stephen King doing something super shameful...I don't know why else he'd write that crap.
Read information about the authorDobyns was raised in New Jersey, Michigan, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. He was educated at Shimer College, graduated from Wayne State University, and received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1967. He has worked as a reporter for the Detroit News.
He has taught at various academic institutions, including Sarah Lawrence College, the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, the University of Iowa, Syracuse University, and Boston University.
In much of his poetry and some works of non-genre fiction, Dobyns employs extended tropes, using the ridiculous and the absurd as vehicles to introduce more profound meditations on life, love, and art. He shies neither from the low nor from the sublime, and all in a straightforward narrative voice of reason. His journalistic training has strongly informed this voice.
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