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The Tipsybibliophile

I love cheap and tasty wine, reading stories about men falling in love and making good food…Here is where I mix all three.

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Counterpunch - Aleksandr Voinov Will the real Brooklyn Marshall please stand up?

Brooklyn Marshall had a life before, he was a husband, a cop, a boxer, he was free. That life was taken away from him, except he can still fight. He still WINS, but does it matter? Does anyone even care?

We find Brooklyn at the end of a fight, revved up and buzzing with his win. But also knowing that he needs to get ready to go service whatever John his owners have lined up for him. He doesn't care, he'll do what he has to, after all that's what he is, a thing. To be bought and sold. He lost his humanity the day that he was convicted and sentenced to a life of slavery. And so it goes with Brooklyn, he trains, he fights, he wins, he gets pimped out. It's all the same. For the most part he's numb, except for the all-consuming rage. Until the night he meets Nathaniel Bishop.

Nathaniel has paid for a night with Brooklyn, and from the very first moment things are different. There is something about this man that makes Brooklyn want to shed the anger and the violence. Something about the way Nathaniel sees him looks dangerously close to something that could make Brooklyn feel hopeful. Nathaniel is rich and has connections, and he's willing to use them to get Brooklyn out of the situation he is in. He's willing to fight for it. It can't possibly be that easy, can it?...It never is.

Honest. That word ran through my mind on almost every page of this book. I knew who Brooklyn was from the moment I read his name. I knew his struggle to understand where he was, to accept the horror that was his life now. The difficulty of living with the guilt he felt for the actions that brought his ruin, but also the resentment of knowing he got a raw fucking deal. I delighted in his love for boxing, his raw passion for it. For where he could take his body and what he could do with it. The frank and fearful steadiness with which he let himself go with Nathaniel, his careful steps towards being able to trust him, and allowing himself to feel with that man what he had to lock down tight for so long.

This book was written with impeccable precision. Every line delivered got the effect it needed to. It was a very different kind of book than what I expected from the blurb. It was gritty, but not heavy. It was edgy, but surprisingly humorous. It was dark, but had bright imagery that let the characters shine. It was a simple world, but had incredibly complex implications about people's natures. How there are those that despite having been virtually destroyed can manage to maintain a light in their soul to be ignited, but at the same time there are those whose hearts are so tarnished with bitterness that they can turn into monsters without provocation.

The boxing I'll just say that was FANTASTIC. Those fight scenes were fluid and vivid. I. WAS. THERE.

My favorite however was Brooklyn, what a character. I KNEW him, so well in fact that I was afraid to hope for him. Because as he said himself, too often "Dreams could turn to ashes when they finally came within reach."

And as true as that was for our fighter, I would still say to him, that for the Phoenix to rise EVERYTHING must burn down to the ground first...And ohhh Brooklyn, how sweet it was to watch you SOAR.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND.