Both Members of the Club

Adam Berlin. Texas Review, $12.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-1937875-47-3
Proving that the boxing novel is still alive and well, Berlin (The Number of Missing) has created an appropriately gritty story about an uneasy triangle of twenty-somethings trying to make their marks in New York City. Their relationships forged in a group home, Billy, Sam, and Gabriel still grasp at one another, hungering for family after childhoods of abuse and violence. But when Billy, an aspiring boxer, starts losing his bouts, Sam and Gabriel, no longer able to watch, urge him to leave the ring and retire. In doing so, however, they must assess their own ambitions as well, whether they are equally misguided. Boxing proves an appropriate metaphor for the trio's struggles, the ways they must learn to take life's blows, the ways they must cut each other down in order to succeed, and while Berlin's muscular and spare prose excels when the plot enters the boxing ring, the inner lives of his characters are less well-drawn. Casting a boxer, a painter, and an actor as his protagonists, Berlin is attempting to evoke a classic New York tale, but his archetypal characters rarely surprise and the shared history upon which their bond relies is too elliptical for Berlin to consistently land the knock-out blows he is throwing. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 12/09/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
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