Approaching Ali: A Reclamation in Three Acts (Hardcover)
A Reclamation in Three Acts
Liveright Publishing Corporation, 9781631491153, 240pp.
Publication Date: November 23, 2015
On Easter weekend 1988, then struggling writer and movie store clerk Davis Miller drove to Muhammad Ali's mother's modest house in Louisville, knocked on the front door, and waited for an answer. It had been over two decades since he'd first glimpsed The Champ on a black-and-white television--when Miller was an eleven-year-old boy, shattered by the unexpected loss of his mother--and he felt the time had come for him to personally thank the man whose fearlessness, grace, and tenacity gave him the power to overcome a near-paralyzing depression. When the door finally opened, Miller would not only get to meet his "spiritual constant" but also begin a surprising and tender new friendship that would forever transform his life.
Today, more than twenty-five years later, the two still share an uncommon bond, the sort that can be fashioned only in serendipitous ways and fortified through shared experiences. Miller now draws from those remarkable moments to give us a quietly startling portrait of a great man physically ravaged but spiritually young. Beginning with a series of three interconnected anecdotes about Miller's first meeting with the champ--which formed the basis of "My Dinner with Ali," a legendary piece of sports journalism that was anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing of the Century--Approaching Ali continues as a historic tribute, composed of linked vignettes spread out over decades, that is unlike anything else that has been written about one of the world's most famous and loved men.
As readers will discover in these pages, Miller is the Everyman, Ali the Superman in physical decline. Commingled together, the two voices form the all-time most intimate portrait of Ali's day-by-day life in his postboxing career. Through Miller's eyes, we witness the aging and ailing Ali playing mischievous tricks on unsuspecting guests, performing sleight of hand for any willing audience, and walking over ten miles each day to enjoy an ice cream sundae and talk with strangers. Miller goes on to reveal a side of the boxing legend we never knew was there, whether it be Ali handing out hundred-dollar bills at a Los Angeles bus stop, showing a group of inner-city children the ocean for the very first time, or unexpectedly cracking jokes with the distinctly insightful words he is still able to summon.
Following in the grand contemporary literary tradition of writers such as Gay Talese, Tom Wolfe, and Nick Hornby, Miller gives us a series of extraordinary insights into a man that he has been approaching nearly his entire life. The result is both a new introduction to the human side of a boxing legend as well as a loving and beautifully written reclamation of Muhammad Ali's life after the ring.