Sunday, May 31, 2009
'LIMBAUGH' BASHES 'THE BARFIGHTER'
By Ivan G. Goldman
I imagined Rush Limbaugh recently took time out from his busy day chasing OxyContin to interview me about my recently published novel The Barfighter (The Permanent Press). Here’s how it went.
GOLDMAN: Look, Limbaugh, if you want to cross-dress, that’s your business, but that gray sheath is all wrong for you. What kind of look were you going for anyway?
LIMBAUGH: Tell the truth. Don't I look just a little like Streisand?
GOLDMAN: Well, sure, but why --
LIMBAUGH: I’ll ask the questions. What the hell kind of book was that? I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it.
GOLDMAN: Did you really read it?
LIMBAUGH: Of course.
GOLDMAN: As your half-witted deity Reagan used to say, trust but verify. So tell us the name of the protagonist’s girlfriend.
LIMBAUGH: Okay, so maybe I didn’t read all of it. Why bother? You discovered there’s corruption in boxing? Well duh!
GOLDMAN: The book shows corruption, yes, but that’s not the main thrust at all. Besides, some of what you might call corruption – participation by convicted felons, for example -- isn’t entirely bad. Baseball would never allow an ex-convict to own a team because it’s a sport that tries to present itself as being purer than it actually is. Boxing gives a convicted killer, Don King, a license to promote. He’s still no saint, but the sport gave him a second chance in life. Providing second chances is a fight game tradition.
LIMBAUGH: (Feigns a yawn) Face it. The last thing the world needs is another novel about boxing.
GOLDMAN: Plenty of fine writers have mined the fight world for material, but I felt I had something else to say and did my best to say it. As I wrote I also thought a lot about regret, rumination, and the search for redemption. These are all very human topics that transcend the fight world, and I hope the book does too. My model was Moby Dick, which tells you something about whaling and plenty about the human condition. My premise was based on an experience I had while sparring in a neighborhood gym.
LIMBAUGH: Will we have to suffer through more of your boxing novels?
GOLDMAN: I still write my regular column for The Ring, but when it comes to fiction, I think I said all I wanted to say about boxing in The Barfighter.
LIMBAUGH: Who cares what you have to say? I’ve sold more books than you could even dream of selling, and to me they’re just a sideline.
GOLDMAN: Sure, you’ve peddled ghost-written titles seeped in your own cruel brand of pretentious ignorance, but there’s still room in this world for people who write their own books and for publishers trying to put out worthy titles. I try not to worry about no-talent jerks like you who hit it big. I prefer to focus on fine artists like John Updike and Joseph Heller who achieved great success.
LIMBAUGH: Then why did you choose me to conduct this interview?
GOLDMAN: Because you’re an interesting though repulsive phenomenon.
LIMBAUGH: Listen, climb soapboxes on your own time. I’ve got an appointment to sign some more multi-million-dollar contracts.
GOLDMAN: Proving once again how important it is to keep one’s sense of humor. Did I mention The Barfighter is also humorous?
LIMBAUGH: So it’s not a serious book.
GOLDMAN: It’s a mistake to believe we can take fiction seriously only when it’s devoid of humor. This widespread delusion is what makes it practically impossible, for example, for a comedy to win the Best Picture Oscar. Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, and Kafka – not exactly lightweights – all incorporated humor in their work. Humor is an essential ingredient to living well. I’m particularly aware of this as I look at you, Limbaugh. If we had to take you seriously there’d be lots more people walking in front of busses. But I think I’ll stop right here because I did end up climbing on a soapbox, and when you prove Limbaugh correct about anything it’s time to quit.
(The Barfighter can be purchased at a discount from Amazon.com.)