Leonard Gardner’s Fat City

City Lights teams up with the Film Noir Foundation and NYRB Books to present author Leonard Gardner in conversation with Eddie Muller, celebrating the re-release of the literary classic Fat City.

Fat City is a vivid novel of allegiance and defeat, of the potent promise of the goleonardgardnerod life and the desperation and drink that waylay those whom it eludes. Stockton, California, is the setting: the Lido Gym, the Hotel Coma, Main Street lunchrooms and dingy bars, days like long twilights in houses obscured by untrimmed shrubs and black walnut trees. When two men meet in the ring—the retired boxer Billy Tully and the newcomer Ernie Munger—their brief bout sets into motion their hidden fates, initiating young Munger into the company of men and luring Tully back into training. In a dispassionate and composed voice, Leonard Gardner narrates their swings of fortune, and the stubborn optimism of their manager, Ruben Luna, as he watches the most promising boys one by one succumb to some undefined weakness; still, “There was always someone who wanted to fight.”

Leonard Gardner was born in Stockton, California. His writing has appeared in The Paris Review, Esquire, Southwest Review, and other magazines. His screen adaptation of Fat City was made into a film by John Huston. A Guggenheim Fellow, he lives in Northern California.

Eddie Muller is the Bay Area’s very own “Czar of Noir”. Impresario, author, publisher, and film preservationist, as Executive Director of the Noir City Foundation, he has done much to preserve historic noir genre films at risk. Each year he produces the Noir City film festival at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. He has been featured as a host on Turner Classic Movies and has presented numerous commentaries on noir video collections. He is the author of the noir classics The Distance and The Shadow Boxer.