The Bittersweet Science: Fifteen Writers in the Gym, in the Corner, and at Ringside

University of Chicago Press
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Weighing in with a balance of the visceral and the cerebral, boxing has attracted writers for millennia. Yet few of the writers drawn to it have truly known the sport—and most have never been in the ring. Moving beyond the typical sentimentality, romanticism, or cynicism common to writing on boxing, The Bittersweet Science is a collection of essays about boxing by contributors who are not only skilled writers but also have extensive firsthand experience at ringside and in the gym, the corner, and the ring itself.

Editors Carlo Rotella and Michael Ezra have assembled a roster of fresh voices, ones that expand our understanding of the sport’s primal appeal. The contributors to The Bittersweet Science—journalists, fiction writers, fight people, and more—explore the fight world's many aspects, considering boxing as both craft and business, art form and subculture. From manager Charles Farrell’s unsentimental defense of fixing fights to former Golden Glover Sarah Deming’s complex profile of young Olympian Claressa Shields, this collection takes us right into the ring and makes us feel the stories of the people who are drawn to—or sometimes stuck in—the boxing world. We get close-up profiles of marquee attractions like Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr., as well as portraits of rising stars and compelling cornermen, along with first-person, hands-on accounts from fighters’ points of view. We are schooled in not only how to hit and be hit, but why and when to throw in the towel. We experience the intimate immediacy of ringside as well as the dim back rooms where the essentials come together. And we learn that for every champion there’s a regiment of journeymen, dabblers, and anglers for advantage, for every aspiring fighter, a veteran in painful decline.

Collectively, the perspectives in The Bittersweet Science offer a powerful in-depth picture of boxing, bobbing and weaving through the desires, delusions, and dreams of boxers, fans, and the cast of managers, trainers, promoters, and hangers-on who make up life in and around the ring.

Contributors: Robert Anasi, Brin-Jonathan Butler, Donovan Craig, Sarah Deming, Michael Ezra, Charles Farrell, Rafael Garcia, Gordon Marino, Louis Moore, Gary Lee Moser, Hamilton Nolan, Gabe Oppenheim, Carlo Rotella, Sam Sheridan, and Carl Weingarten.
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About the author

Carlo Rotella is director of the American Studies Program at Boston College. His books include Playing in Time: Essays, Profiles, and Other True Stories and Cut Time: An Education at the Fights, both also published by the University of Chicago Press. He writes for the New York Times Magazine, and he has been a regular op-ed columnist for the Boston Globe and radio commentator for WGBH. His work has also appeared in the New Yorker, Harper's, the Believer, Washington Post Magazine, and Best American Essays. Michael Ezra is professor of American multicultural studies at Sonoma State University. His books include Muhammad Ali: The Making of an Icon and The Economic Civil Rights Movement: African Americans and the Struggle for Economic Power. His work has been published by Deadspin, Al Jazeera, Politico, and the Guardian.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Apr 28, 2017
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780226346342
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Language
English
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Genres
Sports & Recreation / Boxing
Sports & Recreation / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Bruce Lee
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His ideas helped energize his life and career and made it possible for him to live a happy and assured life, overcoming challenging obstacles with seeming ease. His ideas also inspired his family, friends, students, and colleagues to achieve success in their own lives and this personal collection will help you in your journey too.

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Yellow Livestrong wristbands were taken off across America in early 2013 when Lance Armstrong confessed to Oprah Winfrey that he had doped during the seven Tour de France races he won. But the foreign cycling world, which always viewed Armstrong with suspicion, had already moved on. The bellwether events of the year were Chris Froome’s victory in the Tour and the ousting of Pat McQuaid as director of the Union Cycliste Internationale. Even without Armstrong, the Tour will roll on— its gigantic entourage includes more than 200 racers, 450 journalists, 260 cameramen, 2,400 support vehicles carrying 4,500 people, and a seven-mile-long publicity caravan. It remains one of the most-watched annual sporting events on television and a global commercial juggernaut.

In Selling the Yellow Jersey, Eric Reed examines the Tour’s development in France as well as the event’s global athletic, cultural, and commercial influences. The race is the crown jewel of French cycling, and at first the newspapers that owned the Tour were loath to open up their monopoly on coverage to state-owned television. However, the opportunity for huge payoffs prevailed, and France tapped into global networks of spectatorship, media, business, athletes, and exchanges of expertise and personnel. In the process, the Tour helped endow world cycling with a particularly French character, culture, and structure, while providing proof that globalization was not merely a form of Americanization, imposed on a victimized world. Selling the Yellow Jersey explores the behind-the-scenes growth of the Tour, while simultaneously chronicling France’s role as a dynamic force in the global arena.
Carlo Rotella
This eloquent, streetwise book is a paean to America's Rust Belt and a compelling exploration of four milieus caught up in a great transformation of city life. With loving attention to detail and a fine sense of historical context, Carlo Rotella explores women's boxing in Erie, Pennsylvania; Buddy Guy and the blues scene in Chicago; police work and crime stories in New York City, especially as they converged in the making of the movie The French Connection; and attempts at urban renewal in the classic mill city of Brockton, Massachusetts. Navigating through accrued layers of cultural, economic, and personal history, Rotella shows how stories of city life can be found in a boxing match, a guitar solo, a chase scene in a movie, or a landscape. The stories he tells dramatize the coming of the postindustrial era in places once defined by their factories, a sweeping set of changes that has remade the form and meaning of American urbanism.

A native of the Rust Belt whose own life resonates with these stories, Rotella has gone to the home turfs of his characters, hanging out in boxing gyms and blues clubs, riding along with cops and moviemakers, discussing the future of Brockton with a visionary artist and a pitbull-fancying janitor who both plan to save the city's soul. These people make culture with their hands, and hands become an expressive metaphor for Rotella as he traces the links between their individual talents and the urban scenes in which they flourish. His writing elegantly connects what happens on the street to the larger story of urban transformation, especially the shift from a way of life that demanded individuals be "good with their hands" to one that depends on the intellectual and social skills fostered by formal education and service work.

Strong feelings emerge in this book about what has been lost and gained in the long, slow aging-out of the industrial city. But Rotella's journey through the streets has its ultimate reward in discovering deep-rooted instances of what he calls "truth and beauty in the Rust Belt."
Carlo Rotella
This eloquent, streetwise book is a paean to America's Rust Belt and a compelling exploration of four milieus caught up in a great transformation of city life. With loving attention to detail and a fine sense of historical context, Carlo Rotella explores women's boxing in Erie, Pennsylvania; Buddy Guy and the blues scene in Chicago; police work and crime stories in New York City, especially as they converged in the making of the movie The French Connection; and attempts at urban renewal in the classic mill city of Brockton, Massachusetts. Navigating through accrued layers of cultural, economic, and personal history, Rotella shows how stories of city life can be found in a boxing match, a guitar solo, a chase scene in a movie, or a landscape. The stories he tells dramatize the coming of the postindustrial era in places once defined by their factories, a sweeping set of changes that has remade the form and meaning of American urbanism.

A native of the Rust Belt whose own life resonates with these stories, Rotella has gone to the home turfs of his characters, hanging out in boxing gyms and blues clubs, riding along with cops and moviemakers, discussing the future of Brockton with a visionary artist and a pitbull-fancying janitor who both plan to save the city's soul. These people make culture with their hands, and hands become an expressive metaphor for Rotella as he traces the links between their individual talents and the urban scenes in which they flourish. His writing elegantly connects what happens on the street to the larger story of urban transformation, especially the shift from a way of life that demanded individuals be "good with their hands" to one that depends on the intellectual and social skills fostered by formal education and service work.

Strong feelings emerge in this book about what has been lost and gained in the long, slow aging-out of the industrial city. But Rotella's journey through the streets has its ultimate reward in discovering deep-rooted instances of what he calls "truth and beauty in the Rust Belt."
Carlo Rotella
From jazz fantasy camp to running a movie studio; from a fight between an old guy and a fat guy to a fear of clowns—Carlo Rotella’s Playing in Time delivers good stories full of vivid characters, all told with the unique voice and humor that have garnered Rotella many devoted readers in the New York Times Magazine, Boston Globe, and Washington Post Magazine, among others. The two dozen essays in Playing in Time, some of which have never before been published, revolve around the themes and obsessions that have characterized Rotella’s writing from the start: boxing, music, writers, and cities. What holds them together is Rotella’s unique focus on people, craft, and what floats outside the mainstream. “Playing in time” refers to how people make beauty and meaning while working within the constraints and limits forced on them by life, and in his writing Rotella transforms the craft and beauty he so admires in others into an art of his own.
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Rotella’s essays are always smart, frequently funny, and consistently surprising. This collection will be welcomed by his many fans and will bring his inimitable style and approach to an even wider audience.
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