Friday, May 1, 2020

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

from The Sweet Science by A. J. Liebling:

In the meanwhile, I knew, Patterson had been doing well, without being rushed unduly. In any art the prodigy presents a problem. Given too easy a program, he goes slack, but asked too hard a question early, he becomes discouraged. Finding a middle course is particularly difficult in the prize ring; in comparison, the management of juvenile orchestra conductors, mathematicians, and billiardists is simple. The fighter must be confirmed in the belief that he can lick anybody in the world and at the same time be restrained from testing this belief on a subject too advanced for his attainments. The trick lies in keeping the fellow entertained while enriching his curriculum. In my young manhood, there were two Wunderkinder in the light-heavyweight class whose handlers failed to bring it off; one, Young Stribling, was made overcautious by doting parents, and the other, Jimmy Slattery, was made overconfident by adulation. Slattery, like Icarus, made a great splash, though. He was a boy Mozart, a honeydew melon.

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