Review

Looking for a Fight: A Memoir

by Lynn Snowden Picket

"I'm
full of rage and I want to beat someone up. I want to know what it
is to have physical power over men. I want to inspire fear. I want
to matter."
These are among the reasons participatory journalist Lynn
Snowden Picket walks into Gleason's (a famous boxing gym) looking
for a fight.
Having just finished the New York Marathon, Lynn feels toned,
conditioned and whole in body --- but not in spirit. Her recent
divorce left her angry: angry with her ex; angry to be alone; angry
at being perceived as vulnerable, helpless or victimized; angry at
being perceived as someone to pity or worry over; angry at being
perceived as someone needing to be taken care of. Propelled by
anger, pain, and a need to prove herself, Lynn takes up the
challenge of professional boxing.
It's
more than a need to prove herself, though. It's a need to redefine
herself, or maybe find her definition. Lynn doesn't take the easy
way; being a woman in a man's sport, she's starting lower than the
lowest rung. Sheer courage and determination are what take her up
from there.
In
her sparring matches, she comes up against boxers that outclass her
and use these matches to develop their defensive skills; boxers who
want to cripple her from the start so she can't catch them by
surprise later; boxers who give her pointers to help develop her
skills; boxers who don't know how to treat a woman in a man's sport
(but they know for sure they don't want to lose to her); and boxers
who are there just to plain brutalize her because they like it. In
other words, about every type of male personality you come across
in the real world shows up in the ring. Forced to confront them
again and again, Lynn finds that her growing skill gives her more
confidence and she can hold her own, but it doesn't ease the
overall fear. In fact, the fear increases and expands the more she
immerses herself in the boxing world. "Courage," says her friend
Pat, "is not about the absence of fear, but the presence of it.
It's the ability to act in spite of being afraid." It's not until
after her first professional fight that she realizes the futility
of using violence to gain power, which can only come from
within.
When
a boxer stops flinching when punches come their way, "his skills
become second nature," says Snowden Picket. Her bald, no holds
barred writing style makes you flinch, so real are the images,
sounds, and feelings. Like a good punch, sometimes you don't see it
coming, and before you know it, your heart's beating faster as you
live the anxiety rush; or your ribs start to ache from blows she's
taken and recounts with excruciating, painful detail.
I
had to read through LOOKING FOR A FIGHT once to get my flinch
reaction under control. Only then could I reread the book and
appreciate the other levels of Snowden Picket's writing. It's not a
pretty read, nor an easy one, but it's a book you'll come back to
again and again. If you're in a serious reading group, LOOKING FOR
A FIGHT has plenty of material to generate interesting
discussions.
---
Reviewed by Jamie Engle, (JEngle4085@aol.com)

Reviewed by on January 22, 2011

Looking for a Fight: A Memoir
by Lynn Snowden Picket

  • Publication Date: November 7, 2000
  • Genres: Biography, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: The Dial Press
  • ISBN-10: 0385315848
  • ISBN-13: 9780385315845