Wrestling Noir: Real In Memphis by Stevie Pearson

January 16, 2020

A bombastic, high-energy story, this novel’s writing doesn’t quite rise up to the level of its plot.

As with several pieces of wrestling fiction, most notably the Blood Red, Dollar Green series, this is based on the often shady underworld of the territorial era of wrestling. While it’s set in 1979 Memphis, it’s more of an archetype than a direct homage to its real-life equivalent promotion. For example, one common theme is the territory adjusting to the national expansion of a New York promotion with a more entertainment-based product and approach to kayfabe.

The story is certainly never dull, with all manner of outlandish characters double-crossing one another, the plot taking full advantage of the questionable ethics and reality of a world that straddles fiction and business. Some of the themes are explicitly adult and it’s certainly an example of a world that works for the benefit of an eventful plot, even if a promotion that had this level of extra-curricular activity among its roster would likely struggle to put together a line-up week after week.

Unfortunately the writing lets down the plot at times, with inconsistent punctuation and a particular problem of every sentence of dialogue being on a new line regardless of the speaker, making it hard to keep track of what’s happening in the many passages of extended conversation. More generally, there are several cases where ‘tell’ is preferred to ‘show’, with key plot developments and twists explicitly referenced in a way that takes the reader out of the immersion.

Hopefully this will be addressed in future instalments as there’s plenty of scope for finding out what happens next to this rogues’ gallery of characters — at least those who survive…

[Disclaimer: The author provided a review copy.]

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