examination of professional wrestling—its history, its fans, and its wider
cultural impact—that does for the sport what Chuck Klosterman did for heavy
The Squared Circle grows out of David Shoemaker’s
writing for both Deadspin, where he
started the column “Dead Wrestler of the Week”—a feature on the many wrestling
superstars who died too young because of the abuse they subjected their bodies
where he covers the pro-wrestling world and its place in the pop culture
mainstream. Shoemaker’s sports writing has since struck a nerve with
generations of wrestling fans who, like him, grew up worshiping a sport often
derided as “fake” in the wider culture. To them, these professional wrestling
superstars are not just heroes but an emotional outlet and the lens through
which they learned to see the world.
Starting in the early 1900s and exploring the path of pro
wrestling in America through the present day, The Squared Circle is the
first book to acknowledge both the sport’s broader significance and wrestling
fans’ keen intellect and sense of irony. Divided into eras, each section offers
a snapshot of the wrestling world, profiles some of the period’s preeminent
wrestlers, and examines the sport’s influence on our broader culture. Through
the brawling, bombast, and bloodletting, Shoemaker argues that pro wrestling
can teach us about the nature of performance, audience, and, yes, art.
Full of unknown history, humor, and self-deprecating
reminiscence—but also offering a compelling look at the sport’s rightful place
in pop culture—The Squared Circle is the book that legions of wrestling
fans have been waiting for. In it, Shoemaker teaches us to look past the
spandex and body slams to see an art form that can explain the world.
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