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Big fight nights are glamorous: high-rollers sit ringside, pretty girls in sparkling dresses abound, and the hum of excitement is palpable -- all of it tinged with a bit of gladiatorial bloodlust. But what about those not-so-big matches? Without the glamour, TV crews, and large purses, the fighters must step into the ring with the same determination and skill. The physical demands are no less taxing, whether the fighters stand to earn $1,000 or $1 million. What's running through their minds -- and those of their coaches -- before the fight?
That's the scene Kitamura tackles in her novel about a mixed martial arts match in Tijuana, as she takes readers through the days before the fight and the final preparations of a fighter and his coach. The long drive and cheap hotel are a far cry from glitzy Las Vegas, each man lost in his own thoughts about the upcoming match, weighing his chances. Each says what he's scripted to say, but mostly a weighty silence is present, along with a fair share of doubt. As they wait for the weigh-in, the daily ministrations of sleeping, eating, and working out elongate. But just as the quiet tension becomes unbearable, it's fight time, the moment they've been waiting for.
Brutally honest, The Longshot tells of a man's passion and dreams, and what's left when those hopes collide with reality. Kitamura's debut is a gripping novel of courage. (Fall 2009 Selection)