Though I’ve used this site to broadcast shameless advertisements for myself, I’ve also offered some background on Fighters & Writers that I hope is somewhat amusing, at least to anyone interested the book’s dual subjects. I’ve given the story behind the photo on the cover. (My wife, I should add, also took several of the pictures illustrating pages inside.) I’ve described literary boxing moments I probably would have discussed if I’d found them before I’d finished writing the essays. I’ve explained the book’s dedication.
Not coincidentally, Fighters & Writers includes an essay that explores writers’ dedications and what they reveal. Those and other elements bracketing the main portions of books, the parts many readers only flip through, can also shed light on authors’ aims and intentions. “Writers deliberately make meaningful use of all their books’ pages,” I say at the start of that piece, “including the frequently ignored dedications and acknowledgements.” Even indexes can offer surprises. What’s Jane Austen doing in a book like mine, for instance?
Fighters & Writers includes a section plainly entitled “Sources” that might first look like no more than a list of the books, articles, interviews and other resources that I used when doing research (as well as the place where I indicate where the individual first appeared). But it is more than that. Some of these previously unpublished portions explain the origins of my essays or offer extra bits that give some sense of my at times idiosyncratic approach to boxing-books combinations.
Here, for example, is part of what I say about one of the essays: “Clive James boasts that Cultural Amnesia ‘might well be the only serious book to explore the relationship between Hitler’s campaign on the eastern front and Richard Burton’s pageboy hairstyle in Where Eagles Dare….’ I could similarly suggest that ‘Ink’ … probably stands alone among personal essays by combining contemplation of car crashes, jaguars, Camus, the Bad Brains, tattoos, boxing, T.E. Lawrence and Bond girls.”
My point here is that readers of Fighters & Writers should not skip a single page.