Animal by George Steele with Jim Evans

July 27, 2020

An in-character account by “The Animal” would have been a short read, but this attempt to capture his true voice disappoints.

The book is presented as a first-person account in the words of Jim Myers (the man who portrayed Steele in the ring), but several style choices mean that even if this is how Myers speaks, it doesn’t feel natural. One problem is the repeated inclusion of extraneous facts that nobody would include in normal conversation. For example, when discussing his dyslexia, Myers/Steele mentions the “Dick and Jane” series and for some reason notes the authors, the publishers, the formal name of the series and even the years during which they were published.

This ramps up to the extreme later on where we have several pages of the history of Joe Louis’s career leading up to barely a paragraph of Steele’s recollection of the time he refereed one his wrestling matches. Meanwhile a chapter about Steele’s appearance in the movie Ed Wood includes lengthy IMDB-style bios of every star in the production.

Another issue is that a couple of chapters (covering Steele’s childhood and his time coaching sport students) are filled with lengthy first-person quotes from his peers and colleagues. This would make perfect sense in a biography, but comes across as very clunky when introduced in the middle of an autobiographical passage.

These issues could be overcome by a compelling story but for pro wrestling fans at least, there’s not a great deal to sink your teeth into. It covers the key points of his career but without much insight or revelation beyond a couple of stories, and there’s not much flow as the book jumps around various parts of his life.

Ultimately it has the feeling of one of those “shoot interview” videos where the interviewer is reeling out a list of standard questions and the subject isn’t dishing any dirt or volunteering detailed answers. The result is that you don’t learn much beyond the fact that Myers seems to be a nice enough guy who’s broadly enjoyed his life.

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