Monday, December 6, 2010

Countdown to Lockdown

There are many reasons that I am not the type of person that Mick Foley’s book Countdown to Lockdown: A Hardcore Journal was written for. (Take, for example, the fact that my inner English major died a bit when I ended that sentence with a preposition rather than writing “for whom the book was written). However, the biggest bit of evidence that I am not Foley’s ideal audience is that I am not a fan of professional wrestling. I will admit, I have never seen a wrestling match (Is that even the correct terminology? I don’t even know that!), but I somehow doubt exposure to pro wrestling would make a fan out of me. In his interview with Jon Stewart, though, Mick Foley seemed like a pretty good guy—how smitten he was with Tori Amos was rather endearing. And, surely, reading a memoir of a professional wrestler would be easier than reading yet another book on the economy. I wasn’t dreading the book when I picked it up.

And it didn’t start off so badly, either. Foley was pretty funny, and he understood that his readers might have varying interests regarding wrestling—he began each chapter with a “wrestlemeter,” rating how much the chapter dealt with the sport (is sport the correct classification?) so that fans could skip chapters that didn’t fit their interest. Of course, as someone who was reviewing the book, I didn’t let myself skip any chapters.

As Countdown to Lockdown went on, though, I began to get annoyed with Foley. Even though he acknowledged early on that he’s been accused of being a name-dropper, that didn’t stop his name dropping tendency from irritating me after awhile. Foley seemed to alternate between self-importance and self-deprecation, neither of which I found particularly endearing. I never cared about (or fully understood) the wrestling stories, so the only thing that was going to make this book work for me was a liking for Foley (since the writing, though better than what you might expect from a professional wrestler, was nothing special).

But just as I was mentally lowering my rating for Countdown to Lockdown, Foley brought the book home with a few well-written, intellectually engaging chapters dealing with the premature deaths of wrestlers and substance abuse. I think the chapter on steroid use/abuse particularly deserves to stand alone and engage conversation on the morals and legality of performance enhancing substances.

So, in the end, I’m giving Countdown to Lockdown a 3/5. If you’re a professional wrestling fan, you’ll probably love it, and if, like me, you’re not, I recommend you pick and choose chapters for the best experience.

Watch Jon Stewart’s interview with Mick Foley

Buy the Book

As a bonus, return to the Daily Shill later this week (probably tomorrow, but maybe on Thursday) for a review of the other book Mick Foley promotes in his interview: Samantha Bee’s I Know I Am, But What Are You?

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