The Big Bore of Arkansas

“‘Jour printer, by trade; do a little in patent medicines; theatre-actor—tragedy, you know; take a turn at mesmerism and phrenology when there’s a chance; teach singing—geography school for a change; sling a lecture, sometimes—oh, I do lots of things—most anything that comes in handy, so it ain’t work.  What’s your lay?’”

—The Duke, Huckleberry Finn

Now, the first book I want to mention, which is also the best book I scanned, has merits beyond its own intrinsic and immediate appeal.  Ric Flair’s To Be the Man tells the story of a boy from Memphis (just across the Big Muddy from Arkansas) who will never find out with certainty who his biological parents were.  He was adopted in corrupt circumstances by kind and cultured Minnesotans but could not relate to the demands of conventional life, and his parents had the wisdom to let him go his own way.  By coincidence, he soon found himself in the world of professional wrestling, and Richard Morgan Fliehr became Ric Flair, the Nature Boy, one of the greatest stars of that flamboyant form of folk theater.  Before his first match, Ric Flair did not know whether the contests were fixed or not.  For more than three decades, he says, he has done his all to make his opponents look good and to satisfy...

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