Book – Tietam Brown
Author – Mick Foley
Year – 2003
Genre – Fiction
Pages – 241
Sent to me by angswap at RISI
This is the first book that I have read this year from the website Read It Swap It (more of that in another post but please check out the link above if you want piles of what amounts to free books).
Mick Foley has, over the course of his career, been known as Cactus Jack, Mankind and Dude Love. Not normal pen-names for an author, but then that’s because most authors didn’t start their careers as a professional wrestler. And not in the same way that Jimmy Saville started his career as a professional wrestler (there’s and interesting tidbit for you), but he was several times WWE World Champion, and whilst not being a technical master, is widely regarded as one of the men to have pushed a more extreme style into wrestling – being blown up by C4 in a match (no, really) and losing an ear during one move.
When he wrote his first autobiography in 1999, it became a surprising best seller, and topped the New York Times bestseller list. Many people – my former rival not included – thought that it was a wrestling autobiography that was readable by even people who had no interest in the WWE at all. From here he was given the opportunity to write some fiction, and Tietam Brown is the first effort to that effect.
So what does a one-eared, good humoured, wrestling outsider write about? Well, a one-eared, good humoured outsider of course. And yes, wrestling does make an appearance, although to Foley’s benefit, it is not the focal point of the story. Instead, we get the story of Antietam ‘Andy’ Brown V, son of Antietam ‘Tietam’ Brown IV, who abandoned him as a baby, but then returns to find him when he is seventeen. We see how he falls in love, about ‘the rage’ that overcomes him at particular times, and how he bonds and disconnects with his father again.
It is worth mentioning from the offset, that the writing is horrific. Full of cliches, bad jokes and gaps in logic, there is little to be said for the way Foley writes the book other than at least he wrote it in the first person so all of this can be taken as a character trait of Andy rather than a fault of Foley’s. However, the story hooks you massively. I was constantly interested in finding out what was going to happen next, and it became a read page turner at points.
However, the book is let down by Foley’s wrestling mentality. In wrestling, when things become stale, they make a bad guy good, or a good guy bad, with little thought as to why that would happen or anything that has gone before it. Foley sadly uses this idea the whole way through. A major point of the book sees Tietam going mental at Andy for saying how great Lincoln’s freeing of the slaves was, and then shows his deep, sensitive side by proclaiming it is because he didn’t go far enough and free enough people from oppression. You see a nice side to a character that seemed far darker, but then, when later he suddenly becomes a racist, the whole incident about the slavery is completely forgotten .
I came away pretty unsure how to read. On one hand, I had read a book that had wanted me to power on through it, and I found interesting. On the other hand, it was also full of nonsense – and I haven’t even ventured into mentioning the number of times that sexual abuse and rape happens, seemingly for no reason in some cases – and so I am torn. And I have no idea when I will make up my mind on it, so for now, it receives a pretty average score, and the recommendation to read it if you like Mick Foley. Then tell me what to think.