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Foley, Mick 1965-

FOLEY, Mick 1965-

PERSONAL:

Original name, Michael Francis Foley; born June 7, 1965, in NY; son of Jack (a high school athletic director) and Beverly (a physical education teacher) Foley; married, 1992; wife's name, Colette; children: Dewey, Noelle, Michael, Hugh. Education: Graduated from State University of New York, Cortland.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Saint James, NY. Agent—Luke Janklow, Janklow and Nesbit Associates, 445 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10022.

CAREER:

Professional wrestler, writer. Appeared on the World Wrestling Federation (WWF; now World Wrestling Entertainment [WWE]) Pay-Per-View, 1985-2000, as "Dude Love," "Cactus Jack," and "Mankind"; appeared on Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) Hardcore TV, 1994, as "Cactus Jack." Other appearances on televised wrestling events and on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show. Appeared in Beyond the Mat (documentary). WWF Commissioner, 2000-01.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Three-time WWF Champion; eight-time WWF World Tag Team Champion.

WRITINGS:

Mankind, Have a Nice Day! A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, Regan Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Mick Foley's Christmas Chaos, illustrated by Jerry "The King" Lawler, Regan Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Foley Is Good: … and the Real World Is Faker than Wrestling, Regan Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Mick Foley's Halloween Hijinx, illustrated by Jill Thompson, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.

Tietam Brown: A Novel, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.

WORK IN PROGRESS:

Scooter Riley, a coming-of-age novel.

SIDELIGHTS:

Professional wrestler-turned author Mick Foley scored instant successes with his first two books, memoirs that relive his career as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) star "Mankind," a stage persona who "was a deranged but surprisingly likable fellow in a shirt, tie and Hannibal Lecter mask," according to Alex Tresniowski and Fannie Weinstein in People magazine. Foley, born on Long Island, grew up in East Setauket, the son of an athletic director and a gym teacher. He wrestled in high school and, while attending the State University of New York at Cortland, entered professional wrestling in 1983, competing as "Cactus Jack." Foley started out in the minor leagues of wrestling, as he relates in his best-selling 1999 memoir, Mankind, Have a Nice Day! A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, fighting for as little as ten dollars a night and sleeping in his car. Initially, as he describes in the memoir, he was the "fall" wrestler, the one who would lose the match to a more popular wrestling star. He went on to develop several more fictional personas for the high-powered entertainment industry of professional wrestling, but his most popular was the good guy, "Mankind." Over the years, however, injuries took their toll on Foley: he lost part of an ear in Munich, a couple of his front teeth were knocked out, and he suffered numerous concussions, broken bones, and other major and minor complaints that finally forced him to leave professional wrestling in 2000, after more than sixteen years in the ring. At that time, Foley was, according to Newsday's Alfonso A. Castillo, "something of a wrestling deity."

In his memoir, Mankind, Have a Nice Day!, Foley tells of his personal life in the ring and also how the WWF matches are staged and the endings decided ahead of time. He takes the reader behind the scenes in the wrestling world, an approach that would, according to Patrick Jones in Voice of Youth Advocates, "greatly appeal to teens with an avid interest" in the sport. In the end, the book attracted not only teens but also enough adults to send it to the top of New York Times's best-seller list and to sell 754,000 copies. Time magazine's Michele Orecklin quipped that the "swift sales" of Mankind, Have a Nice Day! "offer incontrovertible proof that wrestling fans can read a work longer than a tattoo." Foley took the success in stride. As he told Tresniowski and Weinstein, "There are better writers, and there are better wrestlers, but there's no better combination of the two.… I'm the most successful wrestler-writer of all time."

Until the publication of his 1999 autobiography, Foley may well have been the only wrestler-writer of all time; not long afterward, however, Foley's book inspired an entire new genre of wrestling memoirs. Foley himself got into the trend he had begun, publishing the second installment of his autobiography in 2001, Foley Is Good: … and the Real World Is Faker than Wrestling. Here the ex-wrestler provides more behind-the-scenes tales of life inside the ropes, and as with the first title, this book too became a best seller. Speaking with Adam Platt in the New Yorker, Foley was low-key about his authorial achievements: "This No. 1 seller thing, it's not too different from winning a championship belt. Once a best-seller, always a bestseller. There aren't too many of us out there." Reviewing the work in Voice of Youth Advocates, Patrick Jones commented that although the book is "laced with humor, much of it quite raunchy," Foley Is Good "tells an often-sad story as Foley realizes that his body is breaking down." According to Newsday's Castillo, the second installment is "loaded with the same candid insights and humor about the pro wrestling industry that made the first book such a success."

Foley went on to pen two best-selling children's books, Mick Foley's Christmas Chaos and Mick Foley's Halloween Hijinx, before deciding to tackle a novel. Reading J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye one day, Foley decided, as he related to Gregory Kirschling in Entertainment Weekly, that he could do better: "Hey, if I could write a narrator who was that clear, but also have a story where things happen, then I might have an effective work." Things decidedly happen in the resulting coming-of-age title, Tietam Brown: A Novel, including murder, sexual adventures, evil teachers, attempted rape, and first love. Andy Brown, protagonist of the tale, is seventeen and has just been taken out of the detention home where he has been incarcerated for killing a teenager who was trying to rape him. His rescuer is an unlikely one, his long-lost father, Tietam Brown. (Both are named after the Civil War Battle of Antietam.) Andy goes to his father's upstate New York home to start a new life, but is stymied by a coach/teacher who makes fun of him and by a flock of athletes who also pick on him for his missing ear and deformed left hand. Meanwhile, his weight-lifting father drinks beer, has sex with as many women as he can, and serves as a poor role model for Andy; father and son have an awkward, confused relationship that Andy hopes to understand. The only bright spot in Andy's life is the sudden and unexpected attention paid him by the prettiest girl in school, a born-again Christian named Terri Lynn Johnson. Andy is afraid, however, that he or his father will spoil this chance at love.

Foley's fictional debut had its share of detractors. Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Dan Kaufman noted that "what the book lacks isn't action … but a character, a scene, or even a scrap of dialogue that feels fresh or unexpected." A critic for Kirkus Reviews felt that "Foley gets good seriocomic mileage out of Andy's addled relationship with his volatile, interfering father," and that "one admires … charmingly weird images." But for this reviewer, Foley "doesn't know when to tone it down" in this "over-the-top first novel." Similarly, Booklist's Keir Graff found the novel "frustrating," especially because of "supporting characters who are two-dimensional or lack understandable motivation." A contributor for Publishers Weekly also commented on Foley's "cartoonish characters," and concluded that "readers in the mood for vigorous pulp may enjoy this steroid-fueled brawl."

Other reviewers found more positive aspects to the novel. Library Journal's Jim Coan found it a "compulsively readable first novel," and went on to observe that Foley "knows how to spin an intriguing if somewhat offbeat tale." Joe Hartlaub, writing on Bookreporter.com, while noting that Tietam Brown is "hardly an uplifting story," also commented that the book is a "surprisingly confident work for a first novel," and that "some of the passages certainly have the ring of truth about them." Similarly, Book Page's Paul Goat Allen called the novel "highly energetic, breakneck-paced, witty, laugh-out-loud funny and—surprisingly—addictively entertaining." And writing in Book, Kevin Greenberg concluded, "Agonizingly tragic, yet ultimately hopeful in its outlook, Foley's novel has us rooting for Andy from the start."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Foley, Mick, Mankind, Have a Nice Day! A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, Regan Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Foley, Mick, Foley Is Good: … and the Real World Is Faker than Wrestling, Regan Books (New York, NY), 2001.

PERIODICALS

Book, July-August, 2003, Kevin Greenberg, review of Tietam Brown, p. 77.

Booklist, May 1, 2003, Keir Graff, review of Tietam Brown, pp. 1507-08.

Chicago Sun-Times February 24, 2000, review of Mankind, Have a Nice Day! A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks, p. 40.

Daily Variety, December 1, 2003, Michael Schneider, "Mick Foley's Grappling with CBS Actioner Deal," pp. 5-6.

Entertainment Weekly, July 25, 2003, Gregory Kirschling, "One Giant Leap for Mankind," p. 44; August 1, 2003, Joshua Rich, review of Tietam Brown, p. 82.

Houston Chronicle, May 26, 2001, Dinitia Smith, review of Foley Is Good: … and the Real World Is Faker than Wrestling, p. 9.

Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2003, review of Tietam Brown, p. 626.

Library Journal, June 1, 2003, Jim Coan, review of Tietam Brown, p. 164.

Newsday, July 28, 2003, Alfonso A. Castillo, "Ex-Lord of the Ring: After 15 Years of Pounding As a Professional Wrestler, Mick Foley Finds His New Passion—As a Fiction Writer," p. B6.

New York, March 27, 2000, Peter Rainer, "Beyond the Mat," p. 102.

New Yorker, December 20, 1999, Adam Platt, "A Champion in the Ring Takes on the Literary World," pp. 34-35.

New York Times Book Review, August 3, 2003, Dan Kaufman, review of Tietam Brown, p. 16.

People, June 11, 2001, Alex Tresniowski and Fannie Weinstein, "Man of Letters," p. 122.

Publishers Weekly, December 11, 2000, "December Publications," p. 79; May 19, 2003, review of Tietam Brown, p. 49.

Time, November 15, 1999, Michele Orecklin, "People," p. 124; March 20, 2000, Joel Stein, "Mick Foley Q&A," p. 90.

Times Union, December 5, 1999, Jennifer Weiner, review of Mankind, p. J4.

Variety, December 6, 1999, Oliver Jones, "Champ Wrestles Out a Bestseller," p. 6.

Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 2000, Patrick Jones, review of Mankind, Have a Nice Day!, p. 420; October, 2001, Patrick Jones, review of Foley Is Good, p. 300; June, 2002, Kat Kan, review of Mick Foley's Christmas Chaos, p. 110.

Wrestling Digest, August, 2000, Steve Anderson, "Mick Foley Wrestles with Retirement," p. 34; October, 2000, "ECW Avoids Getting Burned," p. 15; December, 2001, Jim Varsallone, "From the Squared Circle to the Best-Seller List," pp. 16-20; October, 2003, Jim Varsallone, "A Novel Approach," pp. 42-48.

ONLINE

BookPage.com,http://www.bookpage.com/ (March 23, 2004), Paul Goat Allen, review of Tietam Brown.

Bookreporter.com,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (March 23, 2004), Joe Hartlaub, review of Tietam Brown.

MU Online,http://members.aol.com/wumweaverjr/reviewfigbook.html/ (October 28, 2003), Michael Weaver, Jr., review of Foley Is Good.

Official Mick Foley Web site,http://www.mickfoley.com (March 23, 2004).

Pro Wrestling Torch,http://www.pwtorch.com/ (July 25, 2003), Tony Batalla, review of Tietam Brown.

Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (March 23, 2004).

Shotgun Reviews,http://www.shotgunreviews.com/ (March 23, 2004), Russ Ray, review of Foley Is Good.

Star Tribune Online,http://www.startribune.com/ (July 27, 2003), Graydon Royce, review of Tietam Brown.

TV Tome Online,http://www.tvtome.com/ (March 32, 2004).

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc.,http://www.wwe.com/ (June 15, 2003), interview with Mick Foley.

Wrasslin.com,http://www.wrasslin.com/ (October 28, 2003), Philip Nourse, interview with Mick Foley and review of Tietam Brown. *

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