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The Laughter of Strangers

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  88 ratings  ·  22 reviews

That's a name I built from the ground up. I wasn't the first to systematically climb the ranks, beating the sugar out of everyone I had known to be inferior, leaving only the sour taste of defeat, my claim forever being:

"I am the greatest!"

I can still hear it now. In the silence of this locker room, blood drying on my face, I can still hear those word
Paperback, 268 pages
Published November 24th 2013 by Lazy Fascist Press
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Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  88 ratings  ·  22 reviews

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Michael Seidlinger
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Author gives 5 stars to his own book AKA going twelve rounds with self-indulgence.
Hatchet Mouth
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I originally rated this one four stars and let it mellow in my mind before writing a review. I'm glad I did, because it gave me time to reflect on why Laughter of Strangers is actually a five star masterpiece.

See, the first hundred pages or so are *almost* a traditional narrative, where "Sugar" Willem Floures and his trainer, Spencer, struggle with the aging fighter archetype, the stark realization that time is running out for their livelihood and, in response, cook up a publicity stunt where Wi
Benoit Lelièvre
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Not a novel written for the masses. Starts as an existential boxing story and swerves into Beckettian territory midway through. In fact, if you've read Beckett's The Unnamable and survived it, you're most likely to love this novel like I do because it's written in an easier language and uses boxing as a way to anchor itself unlike Beckett who takes a deep dive into complete abstraction.

THE LAUGHTER OF STRANGERS is as much a novel about identity as it is about boxing. It spoke to me particularly
Robert Vaughan
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There is a darkness in this tantalizing novel, a noir underworld, or underbelly quality that is infused in the prose. To be honest, I was put off by the idea of a novel about boxing, and then reading the first five or ten pages, I was drawn in, then immediately HOOKED. The protagonist, William Flores, possibly past his prime, was floundering in relatable, yet also uncharted waters. There is an inherent structure to the work that mimics boxing, or a ring, and Seidlinger brilliantly displays his k ...more
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've never been a boxing fan. I'm not sure I've ever even watched a boxing match in my life. However, I've read enough Seidlinger to know that this was going to be anything but a normal boxing novel. Not that I don't think boxing fans couldn't get into it, but the base concept of a universe where boxers fight different versions of themselves in order to who is going to be the ultimate representation of themselves is certainly not what an ordinary boxing fan would expect. Seidlinger is really on ...more
Phoenix Rises
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: great-books
The Laughter of Strangers, written by Michael J. Seidlinger, is a tough book that zips, stings, and burns. The prose floats like a butterfly but the content stings like a bee. The staccato style of the language and writing contributes to an overall unease, an anxiety, a desperation, that permeates the entire text and can make the reader unnerved and uncomfortable, at the very least.

More, please.

But the narrative strategy is only the beginning. It seems that Mr. Seidlinger’s novel takes pleasur
Grant Wamack
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Laughter of Strangers by Michael J. Seidlinger is a boxing novel published by Lazy Facist Press.

Now I will admit, I’ve never read Seidlinger and if you’re in the same boat, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. The novel revolves around Willem “Sugar” Floures, an aging boxer, who loses a match that shakes him to his very core. The plot follows him and his inner thoughts as he trains for the rematch. Most boxing movies end at the rematch and that’s about it. No, not this book.

Selidlinger d
Peter Tieryas
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I've been a big fan of Seidlinger's and this one did not disappoint. Probably the most creative and innovative book on boxing I've read. I listed some of my favorite quotes on my blog.

"It’s not what I choose to remember but rather that I remembered anything at all. When everything falls silent, the fact that I can retain the texture of a surface and the pitch of a tone, the smell of a scent and the resonance of an emotion, is more than enough. I should be content that I am able to retain any fr
Bud Smith
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A novel just as much about boxing, as society, media, mental illness and the darkest aspects of the human psyche. The narrator Willem Floures is a fighter who may be past his prime, and floundering towards doomsday, but the real intrigue in the novel comes in the notion that Willem Floures isn't the only Willem Floures, there's impostors everywhere. A larger story is at play here than just a desire to be champion, remain champion or even just win another fight. As the narrator loses his grip on ...more
Kyle Muntz
Jun 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This one is a knockout punch to the brain. It's a novel about a boxer who fights alternative versions of himself in order to stay relevant, and simultaneously an extended meditation on identity; ego; and the process of keeping all of things from collapsing in on themselves. It's the best of Seidlinger's published novels: an excercise in the intensity of a sustained voice. There's an element to it almost like a Greek chorus, commenting on and interpreting itself, except the chorus also emerges fr ...more
Brian Alan Ellis
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
There is a claustrophobic, Dexter-like urgency in which Seidlinger uncoils Floures’s mind as though it’s an old battered and patched-up garden hose. There are delusions. The house in which he lives becomes a separate, breathing entity: “The house looks a lot like me.” There are bodies hanging in his gym, hungry and indignant. Voices in his head tell him he is no longer “sweet with the science.” And are these, in fact, multiple voices, or are they just different aspects of a singular voice? Basic ...more
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very unique style, definitely. Hooked me in, and a hell of a dark, unexpected twist halfway through.
Jun 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2013
Boxing meets a meditation of identity reminiscent of Morrison and Weston's THE FILTH. ...more
Jeff Jackson
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable one-of-a-kind boxing book about shifting identities. Review forthcoming.
Edward Rathke
Oct 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror
D.G. Sutter
Dec 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
(Review originally appeared on The New Book Review:

Undisputed Champion

What is the purpose of identity? It is to dignify the existence of human separation. We are all equally varied in characteristics and personalities. Like two snowflakes, none of us are the same, and unlike Tyler Durden’s philosophy we are all special. In The Laughter of Strangers, Michael Seidlinger challenges the concept of self by giving several faces and facets to the boxer who is
Michael Allen Rose
Mar 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is so much more than a boxing novel. In some ways, it's more than a "novel" regardless of genre. While the narrative our hapless protagonist "Sugar" Willem Floures spins does indeed involve his boxing career, it's the methodology of the telling that truly makes The Laughter of Strangers glow with a unique and unsettling light.

The first half of the book is fairly straightforward, as we enter Sugar's mind as he prepares for a major title fight. Author Michael Seidlinger brilliantly crack
Cory Macdonald
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reading The Laughter of Strangers was an entirely unique experience. The pacing and style of the prose had the effect of suspending my comprehension of time each time I sat down to read. The main character's struggle with identity and narrative memory connected on an immediate level with my own insecurities and confusions. I'm actually at a loss for words as how to exactly describe why this book connected with me. The act of reading the novel felt like a direct connection to Willem as his mind r ...more
Jan 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Likely the most complex boxing book ever written. "Sugar" Willem Floures is a boxer your heart goes out to. He had his time, and he's having trouble letting go. Being on top for several decades, smashing every contender and pretender thrown his way, he's having trouble letting go.

The first hundred pages or so are almost a traditional narrative, where "Sugar" and his trainer struggle with the aging fighter archetype, the stark realization that time is running out for their livelihood and, in resp
May 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
A book ostensibly about a boxer who, though once at the top of his game, is on his way out. Gritty noirish elements set the stage in the early going only to yield to an existential meditation on identity, the self and being. The author very carefully folds this pulp inspired genre piece in on itself, the effect being not unlike a mobius strip festooned with mirrors. Michael J. Seidlinger has given us the post-modern boxing novel and it is a gem.
Nov 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful book, very interesting, a good time investment.
Mar 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Willem Floures is a has-been boxer nearing the end of his career. He's also an unreliable narrator describing his career, but with a fuzzy memory, and we get the sense that his sport has taken a toll on his brain. As things progress, it gets a little Fight Club-y up in here... ...more
Jeff Conheady
rated it liked it
Dec 08, 2013
Civil Mechanisms
rated it it was amazing
Jul 07, 2014
Jeff Musillo
rated it it was amazing
Jan 16, 2015
rated it did not like it
Sep 12, 2019
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Nov 22, 2018
rated it it was ok
Dec 12, 2014
Andrew Miller
rated it it was amazing
May 08, 2015
rated it it was ok
Jul 03, 2015
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MICHAEL J SEIDLINGER is a Filipino American author of My Pet Serial Killer, Dreams of Being, The Fun We’ve Had, and nine other books. He has written for, among others, Buzzfeed, Thrillist, and Publishers Weekly, and has led workshops at Catapult, Kettle Pond Writer's Conference, and Sarah Lawrence. He is a social media coordinator for The Authors Guild, co-founder and member of the arts collective ...more

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