We gave it an A-
Shadow-box invents an absorbing 1946 correspondence between boxer Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion, and Mina Loy, the beautiful modernist poet. What could these two have in common? Their memories of Arthur Cravan, Oscar Wilde’s notorious nephew and France’s onetime preeminent art critic, boxer, and con man. Loy married Cravan in 1918; Johnson, fleeing trumped-up, racially motivated criminal charges in America, befriended Cravan in Europe. But following his wedding, Cravan disappeared at sea, spawning wild rumors about his fate (settled in the novel’s sole false note). Antonia Logue animates searing boxing scenes, avant-garde literary salons, and two brilliant egotists shadow boxing with their past with believable, intimate exuberance.