Adam Berlin's gripping novella, Both Members of the Club, is an astonishing triangle of boxing, ambition, love, loyalty and betrayal.
Bonded by childhood circumstances, the three main characters are bound up in each others' lives as adults in a struggle to help each other survive.
Billy is a professional boxer whose once promising career has started to unravel. He’s lost his last two fights due to cuts around his eyes. The blood is blinding him to the truth, but his friends can clearly see what’s happening to him.
Gabriel, Billy’s best friend, and the narrator of the story, is a struggling actor. He admires Billy’s passion, but also has a very difficult time understanding it. He’s walking through life in a daze trying to figure out where he fits in. Gabriel will make a decision that forces him to look at himself.
Sam, an artist, is sickened by the brutality and violence of boxing. She wants Billy to stop fighting because it’s killing her to have to watch. She’s torn by her own feelings and a desire to succeed.
Berlin knows boxing. His observations are stark and cutting especially when describing the fight scenes. His hard-hitting prose jolts – like a short hook to the jaw. The passages are vivid and startling. The author understands the occasional inhumanity of the sport. He uses it as a metaphor of life’s cruelties. His shadowy descriptions of New York and Paris add more layers’ of truth and realism.
Both Members of the Club is not for everybody. The characters have flaws, but their weaknesses make them more appealing. You won’t find any happy endings in this members club, but what you will find is a compelling tale of people struggling to stay alive.
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