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 Squared Circle is a solid book from a story perspective, and the writing itself is generally solid and well-researched. It's a great look into the history and modern-day mythology of professional wrestling and, even if you're not even remotely a fan of the sport, is an interesting read.
I actually think R. C. Bray does a very commendable job as a narrator - not sure I would change him out at all.
While the story and writing are solid, keeping the content fresh and interesting throughout - the actual audio of this book is terrible. R. C. Bray does a fine job narrating, but whomever engineered/produced the sound on this should be fired. There are *numerous* obvious audio edits that are very poorly patched in, making it sound more like a mix tape recorded together on an old boom-box vs. a professionally mastered and edited audio book. Definitely should be re-recorded...
I really liked this book, but the piss poor editing of the audio can really take you out of it. additionally, the narrator is clearly a good older than the author, which makes some of the autobiographical details in the book sound extra strange, but that's just being knit picky. Truly awful sound quality though. This thing is audiobook adjace.
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.
Audio doesn't match throughout but the stories make up for it! Highly recommended if you are a fan of the squared circle or not.
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