Lover of the Fancy

Early C20th American culture and dissent

Fat City
Leonard Gardner


Stockton, California: a town of dark bars and lunchrooms, cheap hotels and farm labourers scratching a living. When two men meet in the Lido Gym – the ex-boxer Billy Tully and the novice Ernie Munger – their brief sparring session sets a fateful story in motion, initiating young Munger into the “company of men” and luring Tully back into training.

Fat City is a vivid novel of defiance and struggle, of the potent promise of the good life and the desperation and drink that waylay those whom it eludes. This acclaimed American classic tells of their anxieties and hopes, their loves and losses, and the ephemeral glory of the fight.

Paperback, 208pp
Pushkin Press, 2017 (1969)
ISBN 9781782272557


Leonard Gardner was born in Stockton, California. His short stories and articles have appeared in The Paris Review, Esquire, Southwest Review, and Brick, among other magazines. His screen adaptation of Fat City was made into a film by John Huston in 1972; he subsequently worked as a writer for independent film and television. For his work on the series NYPD Blue he twice received a Humanitas Prize (1997 and 1999) as well as a Peabody Award (1998). In 2008 he was the recipient of the A.J. Liebling Award, given by the Boxing Writers Association of America. A former Guggenheim Fellow, he lives in Northern California.

“Gardner has got it exactly right” – Joan Didion

“A brass-knuckle sucker punch of a novel” – The Paris Review

“Tremendous” – Geoff Dyer