Winter of a Fighting Life is James's "kinetic memoir," a walk, at times a shuffle, down through the memories of his relentlessly tested and injured earthly coil. The book includes several pictures of the rarely seen author. Readers with a medical background may take interest in the photos as well.
LL: James, this book starts out as a humorous medical diary and reminiscence. How do you stay so sanguine about the damage you have suffered and the ongoing pain you deal with?
JL: The pain of a man’s damaged tendons, ligaments and nerves are nothing compared to the pain of being a soft little boy unable to preserve even a shred of autonomy in the face of a bullying world of sadistic teens and adults. I can only imagine how much more it would hurt to be a soft, helpless man and that cures me of second guessing my combative pursuits.
LL: I can't detect any trace of self pity in the telling of these injuries, especially notable in the cases where you weren't asking for it (when you were attacked at work or injured in the course of your work). How does the ability to recount your struggles without a tone of complaint fit into the masculine virtues?
JL: The discipline of accepting the outcome of combat is ancient and is pursued by me in my writing as a means of self-teaching. The writing helps relieve the nagging doubts. Placing myself in perspective as an idiot kid who didn’t see it coming helps round out the experience which becomes part of the evolving self.
LL: I want to explore the nature of different masculine relationships, which are mostly hidden from me, but which I find fascinating and without which a man's life would surely be missing something of great value.
There were many passages that struck me as meaningful, particularly those with your brother, your BB gun battles, Lions and Tigers, and of course your one great fight with him. You emerged from that fight with a lifelong truce and friendship.
You have also written many times about the Banno family, and this passage about a match with Dante illustrates the relationship between youth and respected elder so beautifully:
Dante said, from the not so cozy confines of our bloody clinch, “What are you doin’ Mister Jim? You’re fouling me.”Has your combat practice brought you deeper into these relationships than might otherwise have been, especially given your Taboo nature?
I growled, “And when I’m done thumbin’ yah I’m tossin’ yer ass down the stairwell!”
“Why Mister Jim?”
“Because yer killin’ me kid!”
Dante then broke the clinch and said to the gathered witnesses, “I quit; I’m done—draw. Anybody else wanna go?”
JL: This past weekend I met two emasculated young men who fairly winced at my presence as if the testosterone wafting off of my heavy brow ridge and back hair might poison them. In this and many work and social situations I come off and feel like a relative badass. But among fighting men, men who were trained and born to fight, I am a fourth rate physical specimen. The only area, as a fighter, in which I rate as formidable is the psychological one. This has been ingrained in my through competing and training with real “studs” like Dante, and has shown me my place, as a fringe character, an adviser, an interloper, a coach, a trainer, a scout, a writer. I’m enough of a man that the truly bad men respect me, but not so caught up in physicality and ego that I can’t bridge the emasculation gap to the drones of the Dark Mother. I am also better at adapting than more formidable men because I’m used to working from a poor leverage position. The fighting arts have taken me from castoff and tormented nerd to alienated whack-job young man to crackpot old man. The prerequisite of being a taboo man is lethality. I have developed that. The prime requisite is alienation which God gifted me with when he set me apart and beneath the rest of my kind.
LL: I want to tie this in to your recent writings on The Vile Root. Without spoiling the book for readers, I want to ask you if some validation or support from your family might have changed the course of your fighting career? Would it be reasonable to wonder if they had taken an interest in your pursuits, that you might have been satisfied sooner, and changed course to seek other activities? Or were you destined to live this Fighting Life?
JL: What my family was drove me to the fighting path. Their support may have resulted in me going to college and becoming some repellent cipher or a scholar. I am lucky that my family swallowed the Great Lie with such gusto that it repelled me and set me on my way. Physically, I never possessed a pro quality body, which meant that I would accomplish less and stay in it longer, which is a not unremarkable pattern. Few coaches excelled at a pro level and few pros excel at coaching. Also, where the accomplished elite fighter shies away from humiliating himself by showcasing his diminished ability, the mediocre fighter often gets better as he ages since his entire game is skill and learning, so he is tempted to hang around, knowing he’s better than he was when he was young.
LL: Thank you, James.
There are three ways you can own "Winter of a Fighting Life," as a PDF directly from the author, in paperback or Kindle edition:
PDF at JL store
(c) 2017 James LaFond & Lynn Lockhart
(c) 2017 James LaFond & Lynn Lockhart