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Wrestling books/novels

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Hi All,  hopefully this is the appropriate forum to post in (if not, my apologies in advance)  I was looking for recommendations on some your favorite books/novels about wrestling.  If anyone has any suggestions about ones they enjoyed please let me know.  Thanks!

 

J

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The two best YA novels are WRESTLING STUBRIDGE by Rich Wallace and VISIONQUEST by Terry Davis.  Davis' novel is quite different than the movie and a solid YA read.  

A SEASON ON THE MAT by Nolan Zavoral is nonfiction but sorta reads like a novel.  It follows the Iowa 1997 season and is well done.  

I suppose the best adult novel that crosses into wrestling is John Irving's THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, but it isnt really about wrestling.  It is, however, freakin' awesome.

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John Irving's “Imaginary Girlfriend” is a wrestling memoir worth looking up. It can be found in a collection of his writing called “Trying to Save Piggy Sneed”. Two other of his novels, “The 158-Pound Marriage” and “Setting Free the Bears,” both have wrestling characters and subplots but are not “wrestling” novels. Terry Davis's “Vision Quest” is my favorite.

Edited by Gambatte

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3 hours ago, matts1w said:

The two best YA novels are WRESTLING STUBRIDGE by Rich Wallace and VISIONQUEST by Terry Davis.  Davis' novel is quite different than the movie and a solid YA read.   

A SEASON ON THE MAT by Nolan Zavoral is nonfiction but sorta reads like a novel.  It follows the Iowa 1997 season and is well done.   

I suppose the best adult novel that crosses into wrestling is John Irving's THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, but it isnt really about wrestling.  It is, however, freakin' awesome. 

What's the age range for young adult?  Have a nephew coming up on 16 who would probably enjoy both...

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5 hours ago, matts1w said:

The two best YA novels are WRESTLING STUBRIDGE by Rich Wallace and VISIONQUEST by Terry Davis.  Davis' novel is quite different than the movie and a solid YA read.  

A SEASON ON THE MAT by Nolan Zavoral is nonfiction but sorta reads like a novel.  It follows the Iowa 1997 season and is well done.  

I suppose the best adult novel that crosses into wrestling is John Irving's THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, but it isnt really about wrestling.  It is, however, freakin' awesome.

The Zavoral book is outstanding.  I read it every couple of years.  Not just a great wrestling book but a great book, period, which is why I think even Iowa haters should consider reading it.

It is crisply written, nice craftsmanship.  Sparse and vivid prose, no wasted words, moves right along, lets the facts and the characters speak for themselves.

It's for the most part about Gable and uses the year to provide a mini-biography (including just enough about his parents, wife, and kids to give you a basic sense for him as a person); and to illustrate his (surprisingly nuanced) coaching style and his place in the sport, his university, and his state. Also includes interesting sidebars about his past and present assistant coaches and wrestlers, some of the most memorable being interesting scenes and descriptions involving McIlravy, his father, and the trainer, as they try to deal with his headaches and his relationship with his coach.

Gable's retirement decision hangs over the whole book and it's interesting to see someone who never showed weakness deal with his limitations.  

The afterword contains some interesting stuff about the botched relationship with Zalesky.  

Agree with NJDan that The Four Days to Glory book about Iowa high school is a good read on an engaging subject. 

Cowboy Up by Kim Parrish, kind of a mirror to the Zavoral/Gable book (John Smith, during his most successful coaching year) doesn't read quite as well (Zavoral is a professional writer,  Parrish is a lawyer and judge) but is still worth reading if you like this stuff.

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20 hours ago, drag it said:

The Zavoral book is outstanding.  I read it every couple of years.  Not just a great wrestling book but a great book, period, which is why I think even Iowa haters should consider reading it.

 

Agreed, outstanding book. I read it again fairly often as well. my copy is beat all to hell. 

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On 8/6/2019 at 10:56 AM, Gambatte said:

John Irving's “Imaginary Girlfriend” is a wrestling memoir worth looking up. It can be found in a collection of his writing called “Trying to Save Piggy Sneed”. Two other of his novels, “The 150 lb Marriage” and “Setting Free the Bears,” both have wrestling characters and subplots but are not “wrestling” novels. Terry Davis's “Vision Quest” is my favorite.

I'll second IMAGINARY GIRLFRIEND.

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13 hours ago, NJDan said:

""Wrestling, the sport of kings".  Ummm, no. 

Also, it's a about professional "wrestling."

 

Right, but it's about early, "real" pro wrestling and its transition to sports entertainment.

I mean we are begging if we have to point to John Irving as our guy. Homer, Socrates, and the Bible guys mention us, but we are more or less ignored in the Western Canon. Sh*t, Shakespeare gives more lines to bowling than wrestling. Chaucer has a single line in the Miller's Tale?

 

***Edit: I got one: Things Fall Apart. Okonkwo's wrestling ties him back to the Homeric heroes, an ideal that falls apart under the strain that the Xtian missonaries put on the igbo culture. So, there's my real vote. The tourneys held as a part of the Feast of the New Yam are no joke (see YouTube). Bobby Douglas and Igali's interest in this type of wrestling seems to certify this wrestling as legit.

Edited by jackwebster

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Thanks for the interesting recommendations, jackwebster. I'll be on the lookout for both especially Things Fall Apart. Back in the 70s I remember Bobby Douglas referring to his roots to African wrestling culture. Another book on my reading list is Thrashing Seasons, a 19th and 20th century history of the genesis of prairie wrestling in Manitoba.

https://uofmpress.ca/books/detail/thrashing-seasons

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One of my favorite books is Kings of the Mat, by Chuck Yagla....it was in paperback.  It was a diary of a whole season under Gable.  Unfortunately, the book is out of print, and unavailable.  I had my copy "hard cover" bound.  I've only ever loaned it out to 2 people.  Fadz

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