listen to the audiobook. remini's a good actress, and she throws herself into performing what would've been a rather insufferable read (hearing her malisten to the audiobook. remini's a good actress, and she throws herself into performing what would've been a rather insufferable read (hearing her makes all the "oh, that's just leah being leah" parts bearable). book's worthwhile because:
a) remini was actually from a scientology family and served in the sea org (easily the best parts of the book) b) she dishes out plenty of juicy gossip on the missing miscavige and the weirdness of tom & katie era. c) she knows the lingo better than lawrence wright did, and it's clear the religion had a few positive effects on her life (even if she denies that at the end of the book).
my father had read dianetics back in the early 60s and was sympathetic to scientology's aims and weird, selfish, self-oriented, mind-over-matter approach (which makes him a "squirrel," in their lingo), so i suppose that's why i continue to enjoy reading about the religion. ...more
pros: best study to date of pro wrestling praxis. detailed fieldwork by well-trained ethnographer who knows all the "big names" of ethnography like thpros: best study to date of pro wrestling praxis. detailed fieldwork by well-trained ethnographer who knows all the "big names" of ethnography like the back of his not-at-all-calloused hand. extremely good sections on pain and homophobia; eye-opening, in fact. points i'd never considered in those two areas. very useful appendix and footnotes.
cons: author is admittedly not knowledgeable about pro wrestling save the generic "watched it at dad's growing up" stuff that everybody says to me; book is not a good historical study of the subject. author has a bum knee and is worried about participating, unlike Loic Wacquant in the boxing gym (can't say I blame him, though I did 8 weeks in one of these fly-by-night camps like I was standing on my head...though I don't have a bum knee and I didn't really enjoy myself because it is exactly as he suspects it would be: lots of awful falling-down on your back). author also cops to being shy, thus there's a lack of personality on display here (it's an academic text, after all). he also recognizes he's the sort of well-spoken liberal who doesn't quite fit in at places like the rage school ("all I'd heard about wrestling recently was via NPR interviews and I didn't care to catch up" -- why wouldn't you catch up? it's your work!).
in sum: book succeeds when he makes claims based on direct observation. book's weaknesses can be resolved by reading broderick chow et al. on performance, my own work on historical implications/cultural aspects of the sport (including actual praxis, lengthy relationships with serious performers, etc.), and steel chair to the head for an overview of the literature (mazer is good on performance too, in a different way, and her observations, b/c of her theater background, are quite distinct from smith's). i'd also suggest skimming shoemaker's book and reading his columns at deadspin for a "pop" take on these subjects and visiting the pro wrestling hall of fame in wichita texas, where i serve on the board.
but he tries his best, and the results are excellent. another solid contribution to the growing body (!!!) of wrestling studies.