Ronald K. Fried, . . Permanent, $24 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-57962-101-8

From the author of the well-received Corner Men: Great Boxing Trainers comes a light-footed tale about surviving in the gritty world of boxing. Vincent Rosen, a mild-mannered high school English teacher in New York City, is thrust into the brutal arena of boxing when his father, Solly, a prizefight manager, dies and bequeaths him the family business. Vincent is a fish out of water—while he compares boxing to brutal scenes from classic literature, everyone else talks about booze, sex and right hooks—but he decides to do his best for Mickey Davis, a crass, self-obsessed white boxer who was Solly's best prospect. Soon enough, Vincent finds himself setting up a marquee fight between Mickey and his notorious black rival, Josiah "Nightstick" Johnson, a fight that becomes more of a race war than a boxing match. From the Upper East Side of New York to the gritty streets of Las Vegas, Vincent must successfully handle bookies, reporters and promoters in order to catapult Mickey to the next level and keep his own life in order. Fried takes a refreshingly comical approach, giving visceral descriptions of combat in the ring but managing to avoid cliché. The ending could use a little more punch, but Fried's clever, well-developed characters help make this book a literary knockout. (Apr.)