When he was an Army boxer fighting to stay out of Vietnam, Lee Cheskis obeyed a brutal reflex, and only years later does he learn the tragic consequences. Staggered by regret, he throws himself off a career ladder at The New York Times to express his rage in bar fights against other troubled souls. Ultimately Cheskis seeks redemption guiding the career of L.A. gang member and promising heavyweight Marvin “Quick” O’Brien.
The Barfighter takes the reader on an often whimsical journey deep inside the heart of boxing, which can turn from sweet to savage with the snap of a punch, and where a sport that’s not a game becomes an existential microcosm of the world around it.
The story takes the reader from Folsom Prison to the fight capital of Las Vegas, stopping in diverse locales that include the now-shuttered infantry post of Fort Ord, California, Ken Kesey’s hot tub, the L.A. County Jail, and the Café de la Paix in Paris.