The Kent State University Press recently reprinted “The Bruiser” and “Beggars of Life,” both by Jim Tully, and both include an introduction from Cuyahoga Falls resident Mark Dawidziak.
The Bruiser is the story of Shane Rory, a drifter who turns to boxing and works his way up the heavyweight ranks. Like Tully, Shane starts out as a road kid who takes up prizefighting. While The Bruiser is not an autobiographical work, it does draw heavily on Tully’s experiences of the road and ring. Rory is part Tully, but the boxers populating these briskly paced chapters are drawn from the many ring legends the writer counted among his friends: Jack Dempsey, Joe Gans, Stanley Ketchel, Gene Tunney, Frank Moran, and Johnny Kilbane, to name a few.
Jim Tully left his hometown of St. Marys, Ohio, in 1901, spending most of his teenage years in the company of hoboes. Drifting across the country as a “road kid,” he spent those years scrambling into boxcars, sleeping in hobo jungles, avoiding railroad cops, begging meals from back doors, and haunting public libraries. Tully crafted these memories into a dark and astonishing chronicle of the American underclass—especially in his second book, Beggars of Life, an autobiographical novel published in 1924. Tully saw it all, from a church baptism in the Mississippi River to election day in Chicago. And in Beggars of Life, he captures an America largely hidden from view.
Visit http://upress.kent.edu/books/Tully_J3.htm for details.