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"...ladling out the old craperoo..."

In the opening pages of Budd Schulberg's The Harder They Fall, the narrator Eddie Lewis (a boxing press agent, or kind of a freelance PR flack for dubious fighters) dreams of writing a stage play about the sport.

One solid job could justify all the lousy years I had frittered away as a press agent for champions, deserved and otherwise, contenders and bums, plenty of the latter. You see, that play would tell Beth, I haven't really fallen so low as you thought. All the time it seemed as if I were prostituting myself by making with the adjectives for Honest Jimmy Quinn and Nick (The Eye) Latka, the well-known fistic entrepreneurs, I was actually soaking up material for my masterpiece. Just as O'Neill spent all those years as a common sailor and Jack London was on the bum.

Like O'Neill and London. It always made me feel better to make those notes. My pockets were full of notes. There were notes in every drawer of my desk at the hotel. The notes were kind of an escape valve for all the time I wasted getting loaded, cutting up touches with Charles, sitting around with the boys, going up to Shirley's, and ladling out the old craperoo about how old Joe Round-heels, who couldn't lick my grandfather and who had just been put away in two over at the Trenton Arena, was primed (I would be starving to death without that word primed) to give Jack Contender the fight of his life.

I love the energy of Schulberg's language, which somehow manages to crackle and be world-weary at the same time. Even at this early stage it's easy to see that Eddie will never be more than a two-bit flack, and will remain mired in the sordid boxing world of the 1940s. Which is fine with me - that's exactly why I'm reading.

January 21, 2014 in Books | Permalink