Jan Reid, Author . Broadway $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7679-0595-4

"In an instant I went from drunk to sober. A gun in your face does that to you," writes Texas Monthly's Reid (Close Calls) about being ambushed by pistoleros after leaving a Mexico City prizefight in 1998. But his Raymond Chandler tough-guy style quickly changes when he takes a punch at the robber, is shot in the spine and diagnosed a probable paraplegic by doctors. Reid's memoir is more than just the story of his recovery—with enormous pain, luck and physical therapy, he does recover—but a serious and illuminating meditation on how his life has been influenced by images of masculinity: "I have to ask if precepts of manliness, ingrained almost from birth, led me to insert myself in a place and a predicament I need never have known." Reid charts how popular culture shapes masculinity via examples like Lawrence of Arabia, the Marines and, particularly in his case, the culture of boxing, which he discovers during a mid-life crisis and takes up as a "new addiction." The book's most moving passages explore his relationship with Jesus Chavez (the young Mexican boxer whom Reid went to Mexico to see fight) and it is here that the author evokes the possibility of alternative ways for men to relate, particularly while chronicling Chavez's difficult career (and its attendant immigration issues) and his own attachment to the fighter as compensatory for his feelings of inadequacy. Elsewhere, the use of Viagra and the injectable Caverjet are described. Border culture plays a huge supporting role in the book as Reid wonderfully describes its beauties, dangers and daily life. Reid has written a striking, intensely personal and emotionally honest record of his life. (On sale Mar. 12)

Forecast: Since it lacks a how-to angle, this may not be the next Iron John, but men (and women) who appreciated Fight Club will find this real-world story a positive, humanist, unadorned yang to the former book's nihilist yin.

Reviewed on: 01/28/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
Paperback - 253 pages - 978-0-292-70973-7
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-7679-1117-7
Open Ebook - 285 pages - 978-1-4773-0634-5
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