Thursday, April 30, 2020

the last book I ever read (The Sweet Science by A. J. Liebling, excerpt eleven)

from The Sweet Science by A. J. Liebling:

Jimmy Brooks, the other fellow in the back seat, was not a sparring partner but a friend of Sandy Saddler, the world featherweight champion, who is also managed by Johnston and was at the same training camp, preparing for a fight in Venezuela. (The airplane has opened new vistas for a manager with a grasp of geography. Johnson told me later that after Venezuela, where there is a lot of oil money in circulation, he was planning fights for Saddler in Thailand and Japan, two countries that are enjoying featherweight-boxing booms. “They’re all little fellows there,” he said. “No heavyweights to take the play away.” Moore and Saddler both enjoy travel; they are not like a fighter named Terry Young, whom Whitey Bimstein once had to take to Honolulu to substitute for an injured principal in a main bout. They had to fly to make it, and Young was afraid of airplanes. Whitey got him aboard by telling him the trip would take only fifteen minutes. He said Honolulu was in New Jersey.) Brooks wore a black imperial under his lower lip, and was dressed for some improbable Riviera. He said that Saddler had asked him to stay at the camp but that the country was not for him. “I can’t stand those crickets,” he said. “Keep me awake. I’m a connoisseur. A boulevardier.” As we got to the top of a rise on a country road among hill pastures Johnston said, “This is the nicest part of the ride.” Brooks guffawed. “Old Charlie say that every time he get to this spot,” he said. “It’s delectably beautiful.” Johnston, who didn’t hear him, said, “Out here it’s quiet. A real training camp. Nothing to do after dark but take a walk or watch television.” A hill or two farther on, we stopped under a sign that read, “EHSAN’S TRAINING CAMP.” There was a farmhouse a hundred feet above the road, and a couple of one-story white frame buildings still higher up, at the end of a path. On the top slope and the crest of the hill was an apple orchard, and under the apple trees were fat sheep. Brooks shuddered.

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