Fat City

By Leonard Gardner,

Book cover of Fat City

Book description

'Tremendous' Geoff Dyer

'A pitch-perfect account of boxing, blue-collar bewilderment and the battle of the sexes' San Francisco Chronicle

A major cult film directed by John Huston

Stockton, California: a town of dark bars and lunchrooms, cheap hotels and farm labourers scratching a living. When two men meet in the…


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Why read it?

2 authors picked Fat City as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I first picked up this novel the year I started boxing. It follows the rough lives of Billy Tully and Ernie Munger, two boxers living in separate but parallel worlds—Tully an aging boxer fooled into thinking he can relive a few more glory days and Munger figuring out the hard lessons of what it means to lose. I love how this novel amplifies people eking out difficult lives who spend most of their time in dive bars, cheap motels, and seedy parts of town engaging with dubious, colorful characters. The writing is sparse, direct, sad, and unsentimental. Here Gardner is…

From Jonathan's list on boxing with tough, vulnerable characters.

Denis Johnson loved and studied this novel so much that he had to swear it off lest it give him a complex about his own writing. I totally relate. Spare and beautiful, full of wistful melancholy, Gardner’s tale about a friendship between two boxers, one on the way up, one on the way down, but both of them headed toward the same dead-end future, perfectly captures the California bleakness that I’ve also encountered when reading two other favorites, Joan Didion and Raymond Chandler. 

From Peter's list on characters who are down and out.

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