If the daytime Soap Opera ever makes a comeback, Bobby Nash could give up writing thrillers, New Pulp action adventures, science fiction and make a good living writing for them. Before you laugh yourself into a heart attack, let me explain. Soap Operas were excellent at making sure their characters were constantly miserable and unhappy with their lot in life. If anybody in a Soap Opera had so much as a minute of happiness, you knew it wasn’t going to last long.
Now, I don’t mean to call BAREFOOT BONES a Soap Opera at all. But what I am saying is that Bobby Nash (writing as Jack Tunney) does an outstanding job of making his hero miserable. Matter of fact, the first half of the book the protagonist is hit with one emotional sucker punch after another. This is a guy who’s life is so bad that it actually gets better when he enlists to fight in the Korean War.
James Mason is a broomstick thin kid living on the wrong side of the tracks in a small Georgia town. He and his mama are so poor he can’t even afford shoes. That and his painfully thin appearance earns him the nickname of “Barefoot Bones” and it’s a name the town bullies love to yell in his ears as they’re beating the living daylights out of him.
Things change when James is taken under the wing of Old Man Winters who teaches him how to box and control his temper, make it work for him in a fight. Previously to this, James had thought of Old Man Winters as being just the town recluse who kept to himself. But James soon learns that there is far more to him. James and Old Man Winters even become friends and since James is now able to successfully defend himself against the bullies, his life starts to look a little better.
But that’s before James experiences several devastating tragedies and is forced to go on the run, living as best he can by stealing and begging until making his way to Chicago. And it’s when he meets Father Tim Brophy, the Battling Priest of St. Vincent’s Asylum For Boys that his story really gets going.
Bobby spends a considerable amount of wordage dealing with the sad childhood of James Mason and that might disappoint those who want to see more action in the ring. Oh, there’s plenty of that, don’t worry that you won’t get your share of boxing action in the ring. This is a Fight Card book after all and when it comes to depicting fight scenes in the ring, Bobby Nash delivers the goods. But what I think he’s going for here is telling the story of a young man whose real opponent is the crummy life he’s been given, a life that he fights every day. Compared to that, stepping into the ring with a flesh and blood opponent is gravy.
And to tell this story, Bobby does it in simple, uncomplicated prose. Since BAREFOOT BONES is told in first person, Bobby tells it in simple sentences, using simple words. It’s a very appropriate storytelling technique as our narrator is a boy/young man of limited education.
So should you read BAREFOOT BONES? Sure you should. If you’ve been reading the Fight Card series of books then you don’t have to be sold on this one. If you’ve never read a Fight Card book, this is a good one to start with. If you’re a fan of Bobby Nash who has read his other books then by all means read this. One of the pleasures of reading a Fight Card book is that you get to read a story by a writer like Bobby Nash who might never have written a boxing novel, or even thought about writing one. It’s a win-win situation all the way around for both the writer and the reader. He gets to stretch his creative muscles in a new direction and we get to read the results. Enjoy!
Jack Tunney is the unifying pen name for authors of the FIGHT CARD series – created by Mel Odom and Paul Bishop. Up-and-coming new authors, such as Eric Beetner, David Foster, Kevin Michaels, and Heath Lowrance have all penned entries in the series alongside more established names in the field such as Wayne D. Dundee, Robert Randisi, Bishop, and Odom. Also included in the Fight Card series are two spin-off brands, Fight Card MMA and Fight Card Romance.
The books in the Fight Card series are 25,000 word novelettes, designed to be read in one or two sittings, and are inspired by the fight pulps of the ’30s and ’40s – such as Fight Stories Magazine – and Robert E. Howard’s two-fisted boxing tales featuring Sailor Steve Costigan.
Each of the novellas is short, sharp and packs a punch. If you’re interested in reading more FIGHT CARD books then all you have to do is go HERE