THE IRON MAN - with the Adventures of Dennis Dorgan: Men of Iron; They Always Co

THE IRON MAN - with the Adventures of Dennis Dorgan: Men of Iron; They Always Co - I am the least sporty person you could wish to meet, so why have I read a whole bookful of boxing stories? Well, these are written by one of my favourite authors, Robert E. Howard.In fact the few books I have in the sporting genre (The Abysmal Brute by Jack London and Never Come Morning by Nelson Algren being the only other two that spring to mind) I have bought because of the author rather than the subject, and they're all about boxing, strangely enough. It's a sport I wouldn't think of watching, and yet I've enjoyed these books about it.Anyway, this is a book of two parts: The Iron Man section is a short essay and three stories about fighters who generally have no finesse and simply soak up masses of punishment until their opponent is worn out and they can be demolished by a sledgehammer blow. They would be the epitome of Jack London's Abysmal Brute, but Howard still makes them personable and their struggles to overcome psychological, financial, criminal and romantic problems carry the interest of the stories, rather than the bloodily-described fights, for me at least.The second section of the book is about one of these Iron Men, called Dennis Dorgan (who Howard also wrote about as "Sailor" Steve Costigan). Dorgan is as thick as a brick, built like a wall and has a heart of gold. The stories are humorous in tone, which still works for the most part, despite the 80-odd years since they were written.All the Dorgan stories are written from his viewpoint and in his voice, which adds to the charm. While this isn't exactly Oscar Wilde or P.G. Wodehouse, Howard was well able to have Dorgan spout "unintentionally" funny lines. I chuckled my way through most of the stories and laughed out loud a couple of times.The plots all involve Dorgan hammering on, or being hammered by, another man-mountain, either in or out of the ring. However, the set-ups for the fights are different enough from one tale to the next to maintain interest. From the Far East, Triad gangs, missionaries and bandits, to the Californian coast, crooked promoters, gangsters and high-society nincompoops, Dorgan and his faithful bulldog, Spike, cut a funny, bloody swathe.