‘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.”
Robbie Arnott: “Playful, visceral and elegant. Sat down to read it, lost an afternoon.”
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.”
Emmett Stinson: “It’s hilarious, moving, intellectual and grotesque. Grimmish is a novel that recalls (to me) Martin Edmond’s Luca Antara, Ryan O’Neill’s Their Brilliant Careers, Wayne Macauley’s Simpson Returns, and David Musgrave’s Glissando. It’s its own thing, but if you liked any of those books, then you will like this. It’s that good.”
James Morrison (Caustic Cover Critic): “Grimmish is wonderful: a strange and playful and funny semi-novel about a prodigy of turning obdurate incompetence into a sort of success. I know little and care even less about boxing and I still love this book.”
Ben Walter: “Grimmish will likely be the most interesting Australian book published this year.”
Murray Bail: “I laughed aloud.”