Title: The Pugilist at Rest (Signed)
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company, Boston, et al
Publication Date: 1993
Book Condition: Near Fine
Dust Jacket Condition: Fine
Signed: Signed by Author(s)
Edition: First Edition.
Signed by Jones on the title-page. Off-setting from dust jacket onto front board, otherwise both are fine. Bookseller Inventory # GK1940
Synopsis: An anthology of stories by the 1993 O. Henry Award-winning author tackles such subjects as the combat zones of Vietnam, an alcoholic former boxer, and adultery. 20,000 first printing. $25,000 ad/promo. Tour.
Review: Thom Jones's first collection of stories is a revelation. In prose that sounds like nobody else, Jones channels a variety of distinctively different voices, from the lustful book editor of "Unchain My Heart" to the epileptic, amnesiac adman of the Dostoevskian fable "A White Horse." There's not a miss among these tales, but two in particular stand out: the title story, about a boxer and Vietnam vet who has plumbed the vicious depths of his own soul, and the almost unbearably intense chronicle of a woman fighting a losing battle with cancer, "I Want to Live!" "The world is replete with badness," says the aging fighter of "A Pugilist at Rest"; yet, as the narrator of "I Want to Live!" discovers, there is nothing stronger than the human will to go on, to persist--even in the face of the hell that exists right here on earth. It's not all gloom, doom, and napalm, however. There's also the surreal, Gogol-esque humor of "The Black Lights," in which the pysch-ward protagonist insists his only problem is epilepsy, yet hallucinates a giant, shuddering rabbit caught under his bed at night ("It's that rabbit on the Br'er Rabbit molasses jar. That rabbit with buckles on his shoes! Bow tie. Yaller teeth! Yaller! Yaller!") Then, too, Jones creates images of startling, surreal clarity amid the horror, like the dying lieutenant who remains on one knee even after being shot, "his remaining arm extended out to the enemy, palm upward in the soulful, heartrending gesture of Al Jolson doing a rendition of 'Mammy.'" Take a decidedly grim world-view, add a dose of existential slapstick, some Schopenhauer, an encyclopedic knowledge of pharmaceuticals, and a soundtrack by the Doors, and you have what may be the darkest, funniest, most urgent fictional debut in years. --Mary Park
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