Author: Harry Rice
Publisher: Dog Dear Publishing
Zack Pappas is the protagonist of Harry Rice’s debut novella Killer Pappas and his life is about to become quite chaotic when he accidentally causes the death of his father Cyrus who had been bickering and threatening to harm Zack’s mother.
Cyrus and Zack’s relationship had been quite frosty as Zack never enjoyed the same kind attention experienced by his brother Anthony who was the apple of his father’s eye.
Anthony was Fairmount High’s football and basketball hero and was now studying at Brown University on a athletic scholarship. Not as macho as Anthony, Zack was more into playing bridge, avoiding contact sports, pursuing violin lessons, and reading poetry-all activities that his father did not consider to be manly. And when Zack indicated that he was going to run for school president, his father scoffed at the very idea and belittled him.
After the accidental death of Cyrus, Zack learns the truth concerning who is his real biological father and also discovers that he has inherited from him dangerous boxing skills. Unfortunately, these skills will be the cause of Zack’s expulsion from school, after he had pummeled some of the school’s bullies, who did not take too kindly to having lost Cyrus, their beloved athletic coach.
Quite confused and feeling badly that he has used his fists to redress grievances, Zack consults with his mentor Ping Yang, who reminds me of Miyagi in the movie the Karate Kid. Eventually, after being influenced by a close family member and realizing that he has profound physical power, Zack decides to pursue a career as a prize-fighter. Although contrary to his mother’s wishes, who insists Zack complete his high-school studies, arrangements are nonetheless made for him to travel to New York and to train under the supervision of a well-known boxing coach.
Succeeding as a respectable boxer, Zack commences his journey into self-discovery continually questioning who he is and what he has become? He also realizes that his choice to become a boxer is now becoming irrevocable. However, Zack does have one glaring boxing flaw that may prevent him from becoming a complete boxer-it is his difficulty in punching his opponent’s head. Recalling what happened to his father and his battles with some of his classmates, he constantly fears that his head punches might result in grave injuries and possibly death.
Will this prevent Zack from one day becoming champion, something that he strives to become after spending years in the grueling boxing business, working, sweating, making all kinds of sacrifices? It should be pointed out that Rice devotes a good part of the story to Zack’s boxing escapades and if you are boxing fan, you will enjoy these chapters.
I commend Rice for having made a good honest attempt to write his first work of fiction. Unfortunately, however, the story comes up short in a few areas. For one, the characters lack believability. Readers are not interested in what the author tells them about the character of the actors in the story. They are more convinced when they discover for themselves the way he or she would be in real life and I am afraid this was not the case with Zack and the secondary characters. Another glaring deficiency was the underdevelopment of the theme about “coming out of the closet” or one’s sexual orientation. Although this was briefly alluded to in a few sentences at the beginning of the story, it doesn’t really surface until the last few chapters and comes about in a bizarre even comical manner. There were some other deficiencies such as typo and grammatical errors, however, I won’t quibble over these and I do hope Rice engages a good content editor and proof reader for his next book.
Follow Here To Read Norm’s Interview With Harry Rice