Todd Snyder is associate professor of rhetoric and writing at Siena College and author of 12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym. Part love letter to Appalachia, part rigorous social critique, readers may find 12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym—and its narrative of individual and community strength in the face of globalism’s headwinds—a welcome corrective to popular narratives that blames those in the region for their troubles.
12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym is the story of the author’s father, Mike “Lo” Snyder, a fifth generation West Virginia coal miner who opened a series of makeshift boxing gyms with the goal of providing local at-risk youth with the opportunities that eluded his adolescence. Taking these hardscrabble stories as his starting point, Snyder interweaves a history of the region, offering a smart analysis of the costs—both financial and cultural—of an economy built around extractive industries.
In this episode, Arlan interviews Siena College professor and author Todd Snyder about his memoir 12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym. Originally beginning as a short story assignment for his graduate studies a decade prior, Snyder’s memoir shares the funny, happy and sad stories about Snyder’s time at his father’s gym and the bottom-rung small-town West Virginia boxers that crossed the mat.
In this episodes Snyder discusses:
- His experience promoting the book at the Boxing Hall of Fame
- Who’s been reading the book and who was the original audience
- His experience with boxing
- His experience as a first-generation college student
- His writing process
- How his book pushes back again recent characterizations of Appalachian people
- What people take away after reading the book
Mentioned This Episode
- “I really want this book to be a testament to how great I think the people of Appalachia are.” – Todd Snyder
- “I do think when you write a memoir you have to be very careful to make cultural arguments made on your life experience and that’s something I was very mindful of telling stories of fighters in my dad’s gym and my relationship with my father, too.” – Todd Snyder
- “I think I was always a writer and it took getting in the ring to make me realize ‘you know, I’m not my father’.” – Todd Snyder
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