400 pages, 9.25 × 6.31 × 1.28 in
October 31, 2013
Penguin Publishing Group
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 1592407676
ISBN - 13: 9781592407675
Read from the Book
INTRODUCTIONIn modern professional wrestling, the really compelling shows start with what they call a “cold open”—they skip the theme song, skip the formality, and get right to the meat. So let me try to do that here:This is a book about dead wrestlers.It was supposed to be, anyway. But along the way, it became a history of professional wrestling told through the stories of people who made the myths and who thereafter died. It’s the story of a mythology populated not by gods but by real men, fallible mortals who served as vessels for a larger truth, men who lived the lives of kings and who suffered to be our idols. This is the ultimate fakery of wrestling—that the emperor has no clothes, that the gods are mortals. But in reliving their lives, what became clear is that the mythology is what matters the most. We make our own gods for our own purposes. And we love them, and that’s the whole point.Dad took me to a wrestling show in 1987 at Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky. Dad was no wrestling fan himself, but he knew how much it meant to me to see Hulk Hogan square off against the nefarious Killer Khan. My only concrete memory of the night was that the Hogan-Khan “main event” went on halfway through the card. When Hogan dispatched the Mongolian monster, I felt for a moment like it was time to leave; that was the main event, after all. It was a bit off-putting until my dad suggested that they must have done it that way because Hogan had a flight to catch. Even as a nine-year-
From the Publisher
Grantland and Deadspin correspondent presents a breakthrough examination of the professional wrestling, its history, its fans, and its wider cultural impact that does for the sport what Chuck Klosterman did for heavy metal.
The Squared Circle grows out of David Shoemaker’s writing for Deadspin, where he started the column “Dead Wrestler of the Week” (which boasts over 1 million page views) -- a feature on the many wrestling superstars who died too young because of the abuse they subject their bodies to -- and his writing for Grantland, where he covers the pro wrestling world, and its place in the pop culture mainstream. Shoemaker’s sportswriting has since struck a nerve with generations of wrestling fans who—like him—grew up worshipping a sport often derided as “fake” in the wider culture. To them, these professional wrestling superstars are not just heroes but an emotional outlet and the lens through which they learned to see the world.
Starting in the early 1900s and exploring the path of pro wrestling in America through the present day, The Squared Circle is the first book to acknowledge both the sport’s broader significance and wrestling fans’ keen intellect and sense of irony. Divided into eras, each section offers a snapshot of the wrestling world, profiles some of the period’s preeminent wrestlers, and the sport’s influence on our broader culture. Through the brawling, bombast, and bloodletting, Shoemaker argues that pro wrestling can teach us about the nature of performance, audience, and, yes, art.
Full of unknown history, humor, and self-deprecating reminiscence—but also offering a compelling look at the sport’s rightful place in pop culture—The Squared Circle is the book that legions of wrestling fans have been waiting for. In it, Shoemaker teaches us to look past the spandex and body slams to see an art form that can explain the world.
About the Author
David Shoemaker has been writing about wrestling since 2009. He is a former book editor and is currently a book designer at Henry Holt and Company. Shoemaker lives in Brooklyn.
"Ambitious and elegant, clear-eyed and soulful, The Squared Circle is a fine addition to the canon of literary sports writing."—The Wall Street Journal "Acid, engaging prose...Shoemaker ensures that the most unsavory aspects of wrestling have their due and that the spectacle's victims won't be forgotten."—Los Angeles Times "Wonderfully written…A thoughtful chronicle. . . . Whether you're a wrestling fan or just a fan of good writing and stories, The Squared Circle: Life, Death, and Professional Wrestling delivers."—The Memphis Flyer "The most erudite book that I have ever read about...the world of professional wrestling."—Good Times Magazine "Adventurous readers, indifferent to wrestling though they may be, will find this a fun look inside an alternate universe. Fans, of course, will be whacking each other over the head with fake metal folding chairs to get their mitts on a copy."—Booklist "Shoemaker is at his best when telling comic anecdotes about the colorful characters of the sport. . . . [a] lively, informed survey.”—Publishers Weekly "Few people write about anything as well as David Shoemaker writes about pro wrestling. And if you're the type who dismisses it as a 'fake' sport, just know that this awesome book contains real characters, real betrayals, and very, very real death. That's great reading."—Drew Magary, author of Someone Could Get Hurt and The Postmortal "If you believe that pro wrestling is not a sport, then you've never read David Shoemaker. No one else so