When Jack Johnson, world heavyweight champion, beat the white
challenger Jim Jeffries at a famous fight in Reno in 1910, he
thought he was made for life. But in fact it was the start of years
of racist persecution, leading him eventually to exile in Europe.
Johnson gives a vivid account of his chequered career in his
letters to the English poet Mina Loy. The link between this
unlikely pair is Mina's husband, Arthur Cravan, one-time French
heavyweight champion, poet, conman and nephew of Oscar Wilde, who
disappeared mysteriously before the birth of their daughter. Mina
describes her disastrous first marriage, her success in Paris as an
avant-garde painter then a poet, and her progress from Florence to
New York, where she met Arthur, the love of her life. Logue's first
novel is a triumph, reading as realistically as a biography, as the
exchange of letters reveals a sad and hugely compelling story.
This novel brings together three characters. Jack Johnson is a
boxer who punched his way out of the dockyards at Galveston to
become the first black heavyweight champion of the world. Arthur
Cravan, the Dadaist provocateur, is competing for the heart of
English modernist poet, Mina Loy.
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