Fittingly, it is in Las Vegas, boxing's capital, that author Jonathan Rendall, a young British boxing enthusiast, reflects on his own exit from the boxing scene. What unfolds is the true story of his boyhood romance with the sport, his canny coming-of-age as a boxing writer, and his risky bid to bring the unknown Colin "Sweet C" McMillan to the World Featherweight Championship.
Written with the detachment of a seasoned journalist, Jonathan Rendall has produced an uncommon sports memoir about having the faith and losing the faith. Intelligent and funny, This Bloody Mary Is the Last Thing I Own is a boxing book with appeal that extends well beyond the ring.
This is a knockout performance by a graceful writer who knows his subject, knows how to spin a yarn, and knows how to make an eclectic stable of characters come alive on the page. As a stylist, Rendall comes out swinging; when he finds an opening, he can score, whether he's in a smoky British boxing club or beneath the neon skies of Las Vegas. He is not afraid to run counter to so much of the good boxing writing that has come before him: what others have praised as colorful, he sees from his insider's perspective as somewhat sinister and grotesque. There is a sadness, a melancholy really, to much of Rendall's personal journey as he begins to distinguish between boxing's realities and its myths. And yet he's capable of relating this with an almost surreal sense of humor, well timed and well placed, like good jabs should be. A lesser writer might have been flattened by the ordeal; it's Rendall's grace under pressure that, in the end, leaves him standing. --Jeff Silverman