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Author Interview: Kerry Howley on ‘Thrown’

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Kerry Howley teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and she’s written articles and essays for The New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Reason and The Atlantic.  Her debut book, Thrown, is literary nonfiction about mixed martial arts fighting, philosophy and a search for transcendence.

Published in October, the book has won praise from many critics.  Publisher’s Weekly says Thrown “threatens to remap the entire genre of nonfiction.”  The Boston Globe says “The prose is reminiscent of David Foster Wallace’s writing about tennis — egg-headed, entertaining, and obsessive — but the voice is entirely original, the language innovative.”

Two fighters, Sean Huffman and Eric Koch, are profiled in the book.  Although Huffman and Koch are real and their stories are true, Howley wrote the book from a fictitious perspective—she narrates the story in the voice of Kit, a hyper-intellectual philosophy grad student who seeks transcendence through watching MMA fights.

In this interview, Howley explains why she wrote from this unique point of view, blending fact and fiction.  She also discusses self-abandonment and MMA fighting; being inspired by Joe Wenderoth’s Letters to Wendy’s; whether she personally ever stepped into the ring; and much more.