Friday, 30 April 2010

#24 Mankind, by Mick Foley (Harper Collins)

You’re way behind schedule on some bizarre book-reading challenge, you’re busy at work, and you’ve just really struggled to complete a collection of short stories, so what does your friend do as you contemplate your next novel? He gives you a 735-page epic. About wrestling.

The foreword to Mankind, by Mick Foley, makes interesting reading. He says you don’t have to be a fan of wrestling, or sports entertainment as he regularly calls it, to enjoy the book, and he’s right. But it certainly helps.

I’m happy to declare at the outset that my knowledge of wrestling encompasses Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks, Stone Cold Austin, The Undertaker, The Rock and little more, all of which came to wider public attention and transcended their sport to some degree. In other words, I’m no aficionado, and Foley’s autobiography, titled Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, rewards readers with a greater interest in the ‘business’.

For an outsider, it’s more than a little bewildering, with a dizzying number of acronyms representing different wrestling organisations and the wrestlers themselves constantly changing their names and their stories to generate good box office. I’m no heel - or babyface for that matter (I thought I’d throw in a bit of jargon) – but without any prior knowledge of the scene, it’s incredibly hard to keep track of who’s doing what, to whom and why, in and out of the ring.

It’s not without humour – although there are some god-awful jokes, too – or merit, though, particularly when Foley describes the litany of terrible injuries he has suffered, the technical aspect of wrestling and how to land with the greatest effect and least injury, and talks about his unswerving dedication and drive during his years learning the game.

But the length of the book really becomes an issue when, no matter how Foley paints a picture of the brotherhood and respect wrestlers, promoters and bookers have for one another, there are long drawn out recollections of this memorable bout in whenever and that great tag-team encounter wherever.

There are only so many times the hero can become tangled in barbed wire, fall on a thousands pins or have his ear ripped off, after all. And yes, all those are true…

So, rating time:

#24 Mankind, by Mick Foley (Harper Collins) - 5/10

Next up: In the Kitchen, by Monica Ali (Transworld Publishing)

  • Click here for the full list of books so far, and their rating

    1. I love this book! The best autobiography I have ever read, and it is worth noting that he steadfastly refused to use a ghostwriter. However, I completely accept that if you are not a big wrestling fan, then the subject matter could be a little dull. Glad you perservered though!

    2. I certainly admire his refusal to use a ghostwriter, and the honesty shines through the book, but the irony is that using one may have produced a better read. A better editor definitely would have done.

      Although I suppose you can't argue with a bestseller...