Kerry Howley's Thrown hits shelves in October and has been snatching up great praise from some incredible indie bookstores. Check out what some of our favorite booksellers have to say about this nonfiction debut that takes us inside the world of cage fighting through the eyes of a brilliant (and sometimes snarky) philosophy student:
“Unlike anything you've ever read, Thrown is a philosophical exploration of what it means to be alive through the lens of Mixed Martial Arts. The work of an intense intellect, Thrown uses the lives of two fighters to struggle with the biggest questions of experience, very directly fighting for meaning and significance in our chaotic and confusing world. A major work by a major mind.”
—Josh Cook, Porter Square Bookstore
"This book, about the real world of men's cage fighting (i.e., guys beating the hell out of one another), is an almost tender love letter to the sport. The author spent three years following the lives of two men - one a noob, the other a seasoned fighter - and documented their pains and gains. Don't let the phrase 'debut book' throw you - Howley has masterfully captured a slice of a violent, fascinating subculture which translates into a fantastic read. "
—Liberty Hardy, RiverRun Bookstore
"Kerry Howley is a poet-philosopher who understands the role of catharsis in civilized societies. Thrown is an expertly crafted account of her time “spacetaking.” As she slogs through her Ph.D. program, Howley retreats from the academy to follow two mixed martial arts fighters slugging their way through strip-club parking lot and back-alley octagons, frequently stiffed by shady promoters. Reflecting back the fighters’ rhythms in the ring while interpreting their duels within the dual frameworks of Classical Greek philosophy and contemporary US culture, Howley creates a dense textual landscape that reveals the complexities one might overlook had they viewed the world of MMA fighting through the lenses of class or gender. A mouthpiece for strong, silent types, Howley proves in Thrown that she is a force to be reckoned with, pulling no punches and sparing none from the literary jiu-jitsu that pins the reader, placing one finger on their carotid artery with enough pressure to send them into a surreal world in which time decelerates as Titans grapple for the fate of humanity. Bringing to mind greats like Baudelaire, Kerry Howley’s Thrown is sure to be one of the most beloved think-pieces of the year, if not the decade."
—Mel Morrow, Boswell Book Company
"When philosophy grad student Kerry Howley inadvertently stumbles upon a regional mixed martial arts event, she unexpectedly finds the social spectacle she’s been searching for. Immediately obsessed with the violent, male-dominated sport, she quickly becomes the confidant of two very different fighters--one a veteran warrior, the other an up-and-coming star--and gains unfettered access into their day-to-day lives. What follows is an erudite, candid and insightful account of the fastest growing sport in the world. In engaging prose, Howley’s keen, Didion-like observations reveal a subculture all-too-easily written off as simple brutality, elucidating the cultural complexities lying behind our relationships with violence, masculinity and sport. A smart, fun read, and an assured nonfiction debut!”
—Keaton Patterson, Brazos Bookstore
"From the first glimpse of a cage match in Kerry Howley's Thrown, MMA takes on a hue unlike the cheap sheen of a Pay-Per-View match: in her eyes, it's almost holy, a corporeal escape that takes the human body to its very outer limits. I loved the book most not for its precise description (though that was essential), or its winsome but flawed personas (the wrestlers themselves, two protagonists in vastly different stages of their careers, Midwestern Ishmaels on their own epics), but for Howley's enthusiasm, which buzzes and crackles, electric, like something shocked or shocking. The way MMA works on Howley, a sort of transcendent clarity, her prose works on the reader: "It was as if someone had oil-slicked my synapses, such that thoughts could whip and whistle their way across the mind without the friction I'd come to experience as thought itself." There's a common idea that a great writer can make even the most mundane topic interesting—in Howley's case, a great writer can make an obscure, misunderstood topic sing with the grace of a fighter mid-swing.”
—Linnie Greene, Flyleaf Books
"I originally thought I'd comment on how Howley stunningly, seamlessly merges high and low art — but she's doing so much more, flattening hierarchies and rejecting stratifications here. In Thrown, Howley explores art. And beauty. And force and language and study and human relationship. She does this with grace and ease. Reading this work is a pleasure."
—Kirsten Jennings, BookBug
"Kerry Howley's Thrown does what the best nonfiction aims to do--draws you into an unfamiliar world, makes you feel at home, and then pulls the rug out from underneath you and makes you reevaluate everything you thought you knew. Howley takes us inside the lives of two cage fighters, and depicts the extraordinary struggles--both physically and mentally--of trying to "make it big." While I'm not a fan of mixed martial arts myself, I didn't need to be to love this book--it's about underdogs and human relationships, and how so many people never fulfill their dreams. If you're a fan of Joyce Carol Oates, you've got to read Kerry Howley.”
—Brandon Will, Community Bookstore
"In this penetrating look into the world of cage fighting and martial arts gladiators, Thrown is a slice of largely unknown American life brilliantly rendered by Kerry Howley. Kit observes a '...performance an extraordinary physical analogue to phenomenological inquiry.' Sean, the fighter, responds, 'You're insane. I just like to feel things.’”
—Richard Howorth, Square Books