Grantland and Deadspin correspondent presents a breakthrough examination of the professional wrestling, its history, its fans, and its wider cultural impact that does for the sport what Chuck Klosterman did for heavy metal.
The Squared Circle grows out of David Shoemaker’s writing for Deadspin, where he started the column “Dead Wrestler of the Week” (which boasts over 1 million page views) - a feature on the many wrestling superstars who died too young because of the abuse they subject their bodies to - and his writing for Grantland, where he covers the pro wrestling world, and its place in the pop culture mainstream. Shoemaker’s sportswriting has since struck a nerve with generations of wrestling fans who - like him - grew up worshipping a sport often derided as “fake” in the wider culture. To them, these professional wrestling superstars are not just heroes but an emotional outlet and the lens through which they learned to see the world.
Starting in the early 1900s and exploring the path of pro wrestling in America through the present day, The Squared Circle is the first book to acknowledge both the sport’s broader significance and wrestling fans’ keen intellect and sense of irony. Divided into eras, each section offers a snapshot of the wrestling world, profiles some of the period’s preeminent wrestlers, and the sport’s influence on our broader culture. Through the brawling, bombast, and bloodletting, Shoemaker argues that pro wrestling can teach us about the nature of performance, audience, and, yes, art.
©2013 David Shoemaker (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
The reviews that say the recording is poor is very overblown. I almost didn't get the book due to these reviews. Good job over all. A few edits and mispronunciations, but not distracting. There isn't a whole lot of unknown info given for wrestling fans but overall a good cautionary tale of heroes I grew up loving.
Shoemaker is an ardent fan and equally as critical analyst of an entertainment form that quite frankly is seen by most as clownish, frivolous and not worthy of consideration and yet, the success of present day pro wrestling laughs and points at our hypocrisies saying, "See, I told you so." If all or any fields of human interest and endeavors were written about with such spectacular eloquence and passion as Shoemaker has treated pro wrestling, we would all celebrate. In any case, this book surprised me as few others have. Read it if just to bask in the professional writing, never minding the subject. Yes, the narration was just as good but the recording is somehow technically flawed. Others have pointed this out and it is annoying, but does not detract from an otherwise solemn and serious treatment of the human condition portrayed.
This book was great for exactly what it portends in the preface: it is a history of the business as told through the lives and careers of dead wrestlers. Though it sounds dark, and often times is, it keeps the focus of the book on the true reality of pro wrestling and life (and death) thereafter. Those looking for detailed accounts of the Attitude Era, the Monday Night Wars, or the rise and fall of ECW need look elsewhere; this is an agnostic view of the business as a whole from an impartial observer - not a sterilized, dogmatic piece of propaganda by the current reigning faction. Highly recommended for true historians of pro wrestling.
If you're looking for a book that explores the history of some of the more controversial wrestlers, this is what you want. If you're looking for a good audio recording, this isn't what you want
In a lot of ways the book is a trip down memory lane for me, so it was worthwhile, but the book badly needs some editing to tie it together.
pop culture enthusiast
The recording was marred by very obvious retakes during the narrative and several glaring mispronunciations by the reader.
If you're a wrestling fan, you'll enjoy hearing about the roots of what we enjoy as pro wrestling.
This book is well written, and the tales are interesting. Notably missing, though, was Bam Bam Bigelow. (Ultimate Warrior passed after the book.)
However, I have to say the audio was HORRID. the reader was engaging, but the mixing was terrible. Its very clear when a sentence or sometimes even a word in a sentence was re-recorded.
A good audiobook should sound smooth, like the narrator sat down and read it in one sitting. At times, this one sounded like it was pieced together by a Stephen Hawking-like computer, and that's really distracting. It's disappointing and does the material a great disservice.
I'd recommend buying the book and reading this one yourself, it's worth the read, but not the listen.
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