“With deadpan humor, whip-smart insights and some damn fine sentences, Charles Farrell has written a classic chronicle of life in the twilight world, on par with masters of the genre like Damon Runyon, Mezz Mezzrow, Nat Hentoff and Nick Pileggi. A truly great read.”—Debby Applegate, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, and author of Madam: The Life of Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz-Age
A world-class jazz pianist, Charles Farrell made his living working Mob clubs from the time he was a teenager in the 1960s. He later moved from music to the complex world of professional boxing, managing dozens of fighters, including former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks and former gang leader Mitch “Blood” Green, who famously went toe-to-toe with Mike Tyson—once in the ring and once in the street.
A fight-fixer and gangster, Farrell ran afoul of New York mobsters in the 1990s and retreated to the mountains of Puerto Rico, coming home only after an infamous boxing legend brokered his safe return.
Retired from the fight game, he returned to jazz and, among other collaborators, played frequently with his friend Ornette Coleman, the godfather of “Free Jazz” and one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century.
(Low)life is a singular book by a singular man.
A Note From the Publisher
Hear Charles talk about (Low)life in his many recent interviews with: FAQ.NYC, Drinks with Tony, The Patrick Bet-David Show, SiriusXM's Fight Nation, Books on Pod, and WFOD,
"Farrell is an insider in a world that few know; his experiences, particularly as a musician, are revealing, and he insightfully relays the frustrations of a talented artist stymied by his surroundings, his choices, and, on occasion, circumstances beyond his control."
“With deadpan humor, whip-smart insights and some damn fine sentences, Charles Farrell has written a classic chronicle of life in the twilight world, on par with masters of the genre like Damon Runyon, Mezz Mezzrow, Nat Hentoff and Nick Pileggi. A truly great read.”
—Debby Applegate, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, and author of Madam: The Life of Polly Adler, Icon of the Jazz-Age
“This is a book people will be reading in years to come–like Claude Brown’s Manchild in the Promised Land or Art Pepper’s Straight Life or Jack Black’s You Can’t Win. I’ve devoured books about life on the margins since I was a kid, and I’ve read about as many of them as a human can get to, and I’ve never encountered a writer who knew that world as well as Charles Farrell and could match him for clear-eyed, unsentimental, shrewdly observed prose.”
—Carlo Rotella, author of Cut Time and The World Is Always Coming to an End
“(Low)life is a protean, impossible, brilliant memoir by an exquisitely unique observer. Charles Farrell’s stories are fascinating, but it’s his failures, his missed opportunities and blown bets that truly transcend into magical, enthralling, and uplifting territory (and where his writing shines the brightest.) For while Farrell has been so many things–professional pianist, fight-fixer, gangster–he has arrived here, later in life, as an emotional and deeply insightful writer, and his book is a gift of observation, a Henry Miller-esque odyssey through the murky bottom of Americana.”
—Sam Sheridan, author of The Fighter’s Mind, A Fighter’s Heart, and The Disaster Diaries
“Every great boxing writer must understand boxing as a sport. But only those who have been artists can understand it as art, and only those who have been hustlers can understand it as a hustle. No one can interpret boxing like Charles Farrell, because no one has lived the life he has. This memoir shows why he is the best boxing writer in America.”
—Hamilton Nolan, boxing writer for Deadspin and HBO, editorial writer for the New York Times
"As an improvising pianist, Charles Farrell is a force of nature. His playing is at once a raging mountain stream during the spring thaw and the totally controlled and disciplined fury of a kung fu master in the midst of a battle to the death. His formidable technique is wholly subservient to his art: pure expressionism flowing like a conduit from beyond space and time. His music tells the story of his life in real time and it’s a fascinating and gripping adventure.”
—Russ Lossing, critically-acclaimed jazz pianist and composer
“Charles Farrell’s extraordinary, at times terrifying adventures in the worlds of boxing and jazz make for a compelling memoir. This is a book so exceptionally accessible and energized that you will power through it–even if you don’t like boxing or jazz. And if you’re curious about whether Sonny Liston threw the first Ali fight, or what it was like to play with Ornette Coleman while your fingers bled on the piano keys, you won’t be able to put down (Low)Life.”
—Bill Littlefield, Editor of The Top of His Game: The Best Sportswriting of W.C. Heinz
“Jazz pianist. Boxing manager. Fight fixer. Charles Farrell seems to have lived a hundred lifetimes in just this one. (Low)life is a uniquely American memoir packed with keenly-observed scrapes and difficult, often painful, decisions.”
— Ryan Gattis, author of All Involved and The System
Average rating from 2 members
Where has this guy been all my life? Absolutely one of the best books I’ve read ina real long while. This memoir of crime, mafia, jazz and boxing is absolutely riveting and the writing is top notch. A really inside look at the intersection of music, boxing and villains you really get the feeling that Farrell is pulling no punches because he certainly names names. If you like the sopranos or raging bull you definitely will like these real life stories. Read this book