A while back I picked up some old Robert E. Howard Stories, and the Sailor Steve Costigan tales jumped out at me. For the most part I haven't read anything like these stories in current fiction, and after a brief search online I was unable to find anyone that is currently writing "Fight" stories of any kind. This just fueled my desire to keep reading these old stories written by the master of tall tales Robert E. Howard.
I must mention that if you decide to jump into these tales, be warned. Howard was writing during a different time in the history of the United States, and what we view as indisputably racist or sexist, to Howard and many of his time, it was just the norm. I'm not agreeing or condoning the stories for how other sexes or races are portrayed, just passing on a warning as best I can.
What I enjoyed about these stories, is that they are different from what is out their today, and told in such a manner that they are easy and exceedingly fun to read. They are quick and they are simple, and that is that, they are just a great escape into the world of the early nineteen thirties.
Additionally I have been reading these stories in the order in which Howard wrote them, and his development as a writer and story teller is easy to see. I have made my way through about half the stories and start off here with my first review of, "The Pit of the Serpent" by Robert E. Howard. The review is short but as they go on they get longer and more in depth.
For the second warning: I also tell if Sailor Steve Costigan wins the fight and how he does it, so yes the reviews contain spoilers.
This is the first story with Howards character Sailor Steve Costigan. The story is easy to read, and written in first person. The outline is simple, Sailor Costigan steps of his ship the Sea Girl and feels dread. He goes to a dance hall meets a girl, Bat Slade the champion boxer from the rival ship the Dauntless comes in and starts a fight, the two men are taken out of town by an "promoter" and their bout is staged in an old snake pit. After a long bout, Sailor Costigan wins, although barely, and the two fighters are reunited at the dance hall where they both are still hoping to win the affections of the girl that started the row between them in the first place. She has already moved on to a Spanish Naval Officer, the two men knock him out and end up at a bar sharing a drink. At the end of many platitudes from Slade about brotherly friendship, he tries to sneak a punch in on Costigan, but Costigan faster than Slade with a bottle he swiped from the bar, knocks him out.
The story was very simple easy to read. It is told from the first person point of view with Costigan as the main story teller. The most technical aspect of the story is that of the boxing scene, that is shown in fine detail. This is where Howard really shines; the fight has emotion, action, and brutal detail. It is very evident that the story was thrown around what Howard thought was the real story which was the fight.