Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Thrown

Thrown by Kerry Howley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am not sure this book is for everyone, but I found it engaging and thought-provoking. It is a funny and original book that looks at the world of mixed-martial arts fighting. I hesitate to say an insider’s view, since the author is not a fighter. She is what she calls a space-taker: not quite a groupie, not quite an assistant, not quite a beat writer, but some weird mix of all three. She ‘space-takes’ with two fighters making their way through the lower levels of MMA fighting. She follows them because she is obsessed with finding an ecstatic, pure, out-of-body experience induced by the brutality and violence of the fight.

It is beautiful in moments as she captures the sublime aspects of sport and spectatorship. It becomes a little clich├ęd at others times with its disparagement of mundane jobs and boring family life. It is also, at times, a little too impressed with itself and also a bit overwrought in places. But, then, that is part of the point I think: the juxtaposition of philosophical musings about Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, and phenomenology with fights in run-down gyms in Iowan backwaters. For the most part this works and is a big part of the draw (especially for a philosopher of sport like myself). But there were times it was a little forced.

These are minor flaws. The book is definitely worth reading if you are interested in sport, spectacle, MMA, or phenomenology.

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