Picks and Pans Review: Pound for Pound

updated 08/28/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/28/2006 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By F.X. Toole

The author of the stories that inspired the film Million Dollar Baby, Toole didn't live to see publication of this gripping novel, edited after his death. The narrative switches between crusty former boxer Dan Cooley and up-and-comer Eduardo "Chicky" Garzay Duffy. In scenes set in boxing rings and gyms, the two wend toward each other. At the start, Chicky is training with his grandfather, a onetime pro with a drug problem. Dan runs an auto body shop and is getting over the deaths of several relatives. The tough-guys-with-hearts theme gets hit a little hard, but the gritty dialogue and moral dilemmas satisfy. Toole's children report that his last words were, "Doc, get me just a little more time, I gotta finish my book." He can rest easy—the task has been aced.

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