In the Mail

RingOfHell.jpg–> Ring of Hell: The Story of Chris Benoit and the Fall of the Pro Wrestling Industry by Matthew Randazzo V

Publishers Weekly

In June of 2007, the professional wrestling community was rocked by the suicide of wrestler Chris Benoit, after murdering his wife and seven-year-old son. In this wide-ranging expose, crime reporter Randazzo demonstrates that, among professionals driven to incredible levels of steroid, drug and alcohol abuse, Benoit was not unique. Benoit spent years in Canada and Japan enduring training that bordered on the medieval, eagerly employing steroids to achieve the industry’s standard physique. As his star rose, so did the injuries and the chemicals; Benoit’s signature move, a flying headbutt, was responsible for countless concussions. Culminating in a 2001 spinal injury that left him at risk of permanent paralysis, Benoit, like many other wrestlers, treated himself with copious doses of painkillers before returning to work for more punishment. Combined with a crumbling marriage, Benoit’s life became a perfect storm of mental and physical anguish; unfortunately, Randazzo’s broad biographical strokes (he saves details for pivotal matches) and wide focus on the industry’s evolution make Benoit little more than a minor character in his own story. Wrestling fans will savor the industry gossip, but those interested in the how and why of Benoit’s tragic murder-suicide will be disappointed.

–> Pharmakon by Dirk Wittenborn

Publishers Weekly

In this ambitious but flawed novel about drug makers and drug takers, Wittenborn (Fierce People) unfurls the cautionary story of Dr. Will Friedrich, a psychopharmacologist at Yale in 1951, who teams up with a female psychiatrist to test an experimental mood-enhancing drug extracted from a leaf used by New Guinea witch doctors. Will tests the new med on a suicidal freshman, Casper Gedsic, and Casper’s resulting homicidal outbreak will trouble Will for the rest of his life. Zach, the narrator and youngest Friedrich boy (conceived in the wake of Casper’s freakout), comes of age during the tail end of the ’60s, has a truncated brush with writerly success and cops a crippling habit. He and his three siblings end up disappointing Will as their lives run counter to his ambitions for them: daughters Fiona and Lucy forgo lucrative careers for more fulfilling lifestyles (Fiona becomes a painter, Lucy an aid worker), and Willy drops out of prelaw to study art. Unfortunately, the fates of the Friedrich children are of much less dramatic interest than that of their father, and as the novel shifts focus to their travails, this dysfunctional family narrative disappointingly peters out into irresolution.

–> Outsmart!: How to Do What Your Competitors Can’t

From the Publisher

Jim Champy revolutionized business with Reengineering the Corporation. Now, in Outsmart! he’s doing it again. This concise, fast-paced book shows how you can achieve breakthrough growth by consistently outsmarting your competition. Champy reveals the surprising, counterintuitive lessons learned by companies that have achieved super-high growth for at least three straight years. Drawing on the strategies of some of today’s best “high velocity” companies, he identifies eight powerful ways to compete in even the roughest marketplace. You’ll discover how to find distinctive market positions and sustainable advantages in products, services, delivery methods, and unexpected customers with unexpected needs.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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