On the Page: Mike Tyson and Jonathan Wilson

Mike TysonUndisputed Truth

Mike Tyson with Larry Sloman

(Blue Rider Press, 592 pp., $30)

With the more colorful moments of Mike Tyson’s life now thoroughly documented in the minds of the American public, this is a book that should simply be quoted at length because it is absolutely bonkers. From Mr. Tyson’s epilogue:

“These days I drive an Escalade. Some people might think that’s great but in my mind an Escalade isn’t good enough to give to a prostitute. I still owe money to the IRS. I’ll probably die before I pay them off. I’m not making much money now. I’m looking good but I’m not making nothing. I’m a bum. I can’t believe my wife is still married to me. I feel like a dog. I just don’t have a good psychological opinion of myself. I hate myself sometimes. I feel like I don’t deserve anything. Sometimes I just fantasize about blowing somebody’s brains out so I can go to prison for the rest of my life.”

 

Mr. Tyson does present a kind of solution to these problems. When he “wanted to get my head clear,” he went to the strip club. “That’s just what people did back in the early 2000s,” he writes. —Michael H. Miller

kick and runKick and Run: Memoir With Soccer Ball

Jonathan Wilson

(Bloomsbury Academic, 274 pp., $15.99)

Jonathan Wilson’s new book, Kick and Run, a “memoir with soccer ball,” details growing up Jewish in London, being a young Westerner in Israel and becoming an aging soccer fan in the U.S.

Which is to say a sense of displacement tends to hover over this engaging read: Mr. Wilson’s mother slaps him early on when he tells her friends that he wants to grow up to be a footballer. “Why didn’t I just say I wanted to be a working-class Christian?” “There’s no need to use language like that,” the rabbi tells him, when he guesses that the glass-stomping ceremony at Jewish weddings (his own upcoming) might have “something to do with the tearing of the hymen.”

The subtitle is accurate, though, and an understanding of the pleasures of soccer are not required to enjoy this book’s buoyant tone. The younger sections reminded me of the best goofy logic in James Thurber’s My Life and Hard Times, the young man sections of the obsession in Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage (which examines his own development through the lens of D. H. Lawrence) and the older parts of the detached, though still neurotic, observations of Nathan Zuckerman. Americans need not eat around the soccer parts here; simply substitute in your own private addiction from the bench. —Dan Duray