On the day we honor St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, I wanted to post a story that has some link, however thin, to the emerald isle.
A couple days ago, I had a eureka moment. “Kimball!”
I'll take this opportunity to spotlight two terrific books he's authored, “Manly Art-They Can Run––But They Can't Hide,” which is a compilation of Kimball content which has appeared in The Irish Times, ESPN.com and TheSweetScience.com, and “At The Fights: American Writers On Boxing,” an anthology produced with John Schulian, and let TSS readers learn a bit more about the guy who specializes in driving snakes out of our sport. Or, when that doesn't work, poking them repeatedly until they're less inclined to rattle their tails and chomp their fangs down on easy prey.
So I emailed the cuddly curmudgeon, asking for a quickie lowdown on his lineage, which I just assumed started in some county in Ireland, back in the 400s, when Patrick was a missionary curing pagans. Here is his take, which is to be frank just about always more eloquent than my sad stabs at wordsmithery:
“Been writing for an Irish newspaper for almost two decades and spend a lot of time over there but I'm actually a mongrel, a combination of about six different lineages, with Irish being a small part on both sides. My mother's mother was Dowell, as in Dole and McDowell. My father's side mostly old Yankees, but on that side also descended from what I think was the only Irish family on the Mayflower — Thomas Mullins, whose daughter Priscilla married John Alden.”
OK, so my link to St. Patrick's Day is suspect. But Kimball's works are not. You are at TSS. You already know that. But if I have an ounce of credibility as a critic, let me now use that and attempt to get you to log on to your favored bookseller, or even head to the local brick and mortar, and get copies of both “Manly”–when available–and “At The Fights.”
“Fights” will be the only compilation you'll need if you want a hardcover collection of the best and brightest writing on the sweet science. The heavyweights are all in here–Jack London, Paul Gallico, AJ Liebling, Norman Mailer, Budd Schulberg. If you are ever grasping as you attempt to convince, or simply explain, your yen for this savage science to a doubting Thomas, it'll help to bury yourself in “At The Fights” and soak up the poetic renderings of these pound for pound aces.
Some of us aren't as inclined to have the respect, even reverence, for history as Kimball does. I'm having enough trouble navigating the present, and don't have enough time to wade into the past as much as I'd like. So the collection of Kimball columns in “Manly Art” is more my speed. As long as I've known him, the man has never pulled a punch. If he sees injustice, if he senses that the roaches are getting too bold, he cannot help himself but to blast them with the high beams. If you enjoy seeing the roaches scurry, “Manly” is for you.
Here is ordering info for “At The Fights.” http://amzn.to/fWe2rD
And here is ordering info for “Manly.” http://amzn.to/f4UTEe