Thrown By Kerry Howley Published by Sarabande, 2014
Although there's a few brief moments of beautiful, intoxicating contempt delivered upon the heads of sportswriters in this one, it's impossible to buy them outright--or at least, not to chalk them up as the venomous darts we aim at our closest rivals. Kerry Howley may not crave the claim, but if ever there was a book to be placed alongside the greats of fight lit, it's Thrown, a wonderful travelogue/fight diary told at a breakneck pace. Supposedly constructed out of journals full of notes intended as a graduate study of true experiences in philosophical phenomology, Thrown traces Kerry's "space-taking" immersion into the world of MMA fighting and her personal obsession with two fighters--the should've-been-a-contender Sean Huffman and Eric "New Breed" Koch, a young fighter at the onset of a potential-filled career. Like any smart writer schooled in contemporary profiling, Howley doesn't skimp on the documentation of perception, the little moments of weirdness that demystify one of the few sports still capable of mystification. It's that solidity of form--that awareness of what we need for these narratives to contain and compel us forward--that serves as Howley's truer focus though, one that seeks to pierce exactly what it is that's occuring in those shining moments when their bodies enact violence, when skin swells, splits, tears. In hands of lesser purpose, Howley's mention of how these men speak, the way they respond to request, the look in their eyes when they listen, their weird demands and weirder requirements--all of these things would be gloss upon the room, cheap minutatie to fill the mouth of the brains color commentary. In hers, the trivia becomes another bone, one that one of her fighters would use as handle. We find purchase just the same.