Books: Them's Fighting Words

The author of Million Dollar Baby saved his knockout first novel for the very last round

As writers go, F.X. Toole was not one of your precocious, dewy-eyed Iowa Writers' Workshop debutants. He attended the M.F.A. program of hard knocks. If his author's bio is to be believed, he was a taxi driver, saloon keeper, bullfighter (really?) and, most notably and relevantly, a boxing trainer and cut man. Toole (a pseudonym) was also the author of the story collection Rope Burns, best known for the short story Million Dollar Baby, which became a movie of the same name. Rope Burns was Toole's literary debut. He was 70.

Toole never saw Hilary Swank get that second Oscar. He...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!