Recently there’s been growing chatter about Jake Wegner’s work-in-progress book, a retrospective on 100 years of boxing rivalries in Minnesota titled “Land of 10,000 Bruises.”
Because his publisher asked him to do so, Wegner recently shared some excerpts from his unfinished book with several local boxing writers – and I was lucky enough to be chosen to share in the bounty. After reading two chapters (on the two bouts between Duane Bobick and Scott LeDoux), I’ve come away with a greater appreciation for the substance of Wegner’s research as well as the creativity with which he writes.
The 33 pages I have read are a sufficient sample size for me to make the following observations:
- Wegner stuffs his writing so full of newspaper clippings and reminiscences from fighters and boxing personalities that the reader feels transported – or at least, the reader feels as if the writer experienced it all firsthand. It is particularly interesting to learn how these celebrities of the past were thought of and written about in their own time.
- In an attempt to convey the significance of the events about which he writes, Wegner resorts to a lot of promoter-like hyperbolic language. This isn’t a criticism on my part, although it could tend to put off some less enthusiastic readers. When the writer’s enthusiasm is genuine, that kind of language can be appropriate. Hopefully a skilled editor will make only essential changes in Wegner’s prose, allowing the voice of the fan to come through in the final draft.
- Although this is going to be a book that the casual Minnesota sports fan will enjoy, fans of the local boxing scene are going to be thrilled with it. If you already know who Jackie Graves, the Flanagans, the Gibbons, Duane Horsman, Rick Folstad, Pat O’Connor, and Raphael Rodriguez are, then this book is going to captivate you. If you start out not knowing who these men are, then having read the book, you will know and you will care.
Land of 10,000 Bruises: 100 Years of Minnesota’s Greatest Boxing Rivalries is expected to be published in 2011.