Previously published as: Rope Burns: Stories from the Corner.
And I’m glad I picked it up, because these short stories are a lot better than the film. The author, F.X. Toole, was a cut-man and professional boxing trainer, and so he knew the business. He knew the people and the atmosphere and all of that comes across in the stories.
The best of the stories, imo, is Rope Burns. That was the title he gave to the collection before Eastwood’s film gave the book the attention. Like most of the stories it involves a boxer and a cut-man/trainer, but it also deals with issues that the other stories mentioned but never investigated; race & crime.
Most of Toole’s stories involve an older white man as the main protagonist, but race is never a major issue. Any time it is brought up all of the other characters seem to have no problems or racial tensions. is set around the riots surrounding the Rodney King court case. In the story the role of the media is looked at, as is the way race is such an emotive subject. The main character, Mac, an ex-policeman, thinks about how the film shown on the news has been edited to remove the reason the police were in pursuit, as well as King’s violence while resisting arrest. Now I don’t know enough about the incident to comment, I saw bits of the tape on the telly, and it looked terrible to me, but I still find what was brought up in the short story interesting to read.
Overall the stories are well told, and apart from Million Dollar Baby, which I felt was told more like a report than a story, I really enjoyed them all. A lot more than the film of the same name.
The Short Stories:
* Member of the Fancy: An introduction
* The Monkey Look
* Black Jew
* Million $$$ Baby
* Fightin in Philly
* Frozen Water
* Rope Burns
* Between Rounds: An Acknowledgment