I call him “The Dean” of fightwriters, sometimes to his face, and I don’t think it displeases him.
I’m actually not totally sold on “The Dean,” because I think Thomas Hauser’s talents, and bearing and decades-long track record, and, frankly, somewhat puzzling presence in the game, deserve a more fitting, maybe more complex appellation.
I’m working’ on it…
But while I do so, I’m also digging into a new Hauser work. The man is prolific; he’s authored 47 books, and functions like a prizefighter who has the sweet science damn well mastered, a guy who throws 80 punches a round, but not one hundred, because he knows at what point he approaches burnout. He is something of the Seymour Hersh–look it up, or, here’s the Wiki–of our set, a guy who could teach a class on journalism methods. He makes the calls, and then more calls, and fills up what I guess is a ream-room of yellow legal pads full of notes for every story.
Back to that “puzzling” reference…I do sometimes find myself looking at him, sort of regal, professorial, ever-slim and relaxed-dapper, his visage fitting his writing style, not prone to over-emoting, or showy ebullience, and wondering what the heck he’s doing here. The intellect is of a level which is not unknown to our beloved red light district of sports entertainment, but yes, one that could serve him in, how to put this, less malodorous sectors. Er, OK, he was an attorney, who came from Wall St., so, there’s that…that fact could send me into a rabbit hole of compare and contrast on the merits and downsides and relative moral fibers of the fight game set and the wizards of high frequency foolishness, the vampire squid brigade….
The latest Hauser work isn’t, believe it or not, a boxing book. People who follow his career know that’s not an aberration. His first novel, “Missing,” was nominated for a Pulitzer, and was the basis for an Academy-Award winning film. His “Muhammad Ali: His LIfe and Times” is the current and forever standard-bearer for biographies on The Greatest…and that in itself is legacy enough, a work of that quality on the greatest sportsman the world has ever and will ever know.
Right now, I’m a couple chapters in to “The Final Recollections of Charles Dickens.” Truth be told, I’d not use the book for anything other than a prop for one of my air conditioners if my pal Tom didn’t write it, but that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it. I rely on Hauser as one of those people who spur me to go outside my proverbial safe zones, and reading this work of historical fiction indeed has made a part of my brain pretty dormant since, like 1991, activate.
The book has Dickens writing in first person, and Hauser urges us to suspend disbelief, and settle into the construct. Oh, I’m OK at that, being a fightwriter, I must suppress disbelief on a daily basis lest I become too cynical, and invite flies into my gaping maw, so often do the fight games sundry citizens test my set standards of perceived norms and accepted practices.
I found myself thinking of Hauser, sorry Tom, not Dickens, when I read, “I please myself with thinking that my success has opened the way for others and that I will leave the position of literary men better and more independent than I found it.” Hauser, when his arc is stilled, will leave the canon of fightwriting much better than when he entered this arena.
So anyway, I’m making my way into the effort and enjoying it so far. Actually, digging it more than most of the Dickens stuff teachers made me read, so props to Tom. I admit, I will always prefer to read Hauser’s work he sends me for TSS and the like…but I appreciate the way he manages to keep me turning pages on the subject of the man who wrote the best selling novel of all time, A Tale of Two Cities. I’m thinking I will be employing, properly, the term “Dickensian” in the next few weeks, in homage to The Dean, for this rock-solid effort.