‘I just don’t believe that man is made of flesh and blood.’ - Jack Johnson, World Heavyweight Boxing Champion
Pain was Joe Grim’s self-expression, his livelihood and reason for being. In 1908-09 the Italian-American boxer toured Australia, losing fights but amazing crowds with his showmanship and extraordinary physical resilience. On the east coast Grim played a supporting role in the Jack Johnson-Tommy Burns Fight of the Century; on the west coast he was committed to an insane asylum. In between he played with the concept and reality of pain in a shocking manner not witnessed before or since.
Michael Winkler braids the story of Grim in Australia and meditations on pain with thoughts on masculinity and vulnerability, plus questionable jokes, in a haymaker of experimental non-fiction.
JM Coetzee: “The strangest book you are likely to read this year.”
Emmett Stinson, Overland: “Grimmish is probably the most unusual Australian book I will read in 2021, and, without a doubt one of the best.”
Robbie Arnott: “Playful, visceral and elegant. Sat down to read it, lost an afternoon.”
Greg Gerke: “A novel that takes chances, that animates a hazily documented life and bleeds it into a strange music called fiction. It’s Stein, Gass, McCarthy, and Pynchon rolled into one exquisite cannoli.”
Alex Cothren, ABR: “Michael Winkler’s Grimmish is the best literary clinch you’ll ever read.” https://www.australianbookreview.com.au/abr-online/current-issue/962-april-2021-no-430/7608-alex-cothren-reviews-grimmish-by-michael-winkler
Ben Walter: “Grimmish will likely be the most interesting Australian book published this year.”
Jock Serong: “What a gem this is: funny, sad and fascinating – but more than anything else, the writing is superb. I hit the back cover at speed and nearly went clean through it.”
Bram Presser: “Such an odd, beguiling and wonderful book.”
Steven Carroll, The Age: “Cleverly experimental, this is one out of the box.”
Akin Akinwumi: “Great writing.”
Murray Bail: “I laughed aloud.”