The Reader's Couch Podcast

Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel

Perfect for both sports fans and non-fans alike, this book offers an intriguing mix of competitive spirit, emotional depth, and real-life sporting experiences.

Last Updated on July 11, 2024 by BiblioLifestyle

The Reader's Couch podcast - Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel

Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel


Ever wondered what goes on in the minds of young athletes?  Whether you’re a sports fan or not, this episode offers an intriguing mix of competitive spirit, emotional depth, and the surreal.  In Headshot by Rita Bullwinkle, we follow eight young female boxers competing over a hot July weekend at Bob’s Boxing Palace in Reno, Nevada, detailing their physical matches and personal backstories.  Rita and I talk about these fighters’ unique backgrounds, personalities, and inner struggles while sharing real-life sporting experiences like water polo, soccer, NFL, the Kelce brothers and their family, Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese.

Get a copy of Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel on Amazon or Bookshop

Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel is one the books on my list of The Best Literary Fiction of 2024.

Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel

On the episode: Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel

It was a pleasure to welcome Rita Bullwinkel to the podcast to talk about “Headshot,” a novel about a youth women’s boxing tournament in Reno, Nevada. The novel captures not just the physicality of the sport but it also explores the personal backstories and inner struggles of eight young female boxers.

Overview of Headshot

In “Headshot,” eight young female boxers compete over a hot July weekend at Bob’s Boxing Palace in Reno, Nevada. The novel is structured around matches between the fighters, integrating their physical contests with their personal backstories. Each match is a portrait of the fighters, exploring their unique personalities and inner struggles.

Rita’s narrative choice gives readers a “crow’s eye view” of the tournament. This perspective not only focuses on the boxers but also brings in the thoughts of coaches, family members, and spectators. As a result this approach provides a rich, multi-dimensional view of the weekend’s events.

Get a copy of Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel on Amazon or Bookshop

Headshot is so much more than boxing

Despite not being a boxing fan, I really connected with the story because of my sporting background in school, when I played soccer and netball. So whether you’re a sports enthusiast or not, I think you can still appreciate this novel. “Headshot” offers a profound look into the lives of eight young women, their struggles, and their victories, both in and out of the boxing ring.

Inspiration Behind Headshot

Rita explains that her inspiration for “Headshot” came from her personal memories as a competitive water polo youth athlete. She recalls the numerous tournaments she attended and the power training had over her life. She wanted to explore these themes and the collective spirit of competition within the context of boxing.

Books Mentioned During The Show

  • Terrace Story by Book by Hilary Leichter
  • Martyr! by Kaveh Akbar
  • Worry by Alexandra Tanner
  • Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
  • Nancy Drew Books
  • Chirri & Chirra Series
author Rita Bullwinkel

About Rita Bullwinkel

Rita Bullwinkel is the author of Belly Up, a story collection that won the Believer Book Award. The recipient of a 2022 Whiting Award, she has had her work published in Tin HouseConjunctionsBOMB MagazineNOON, and Guernica. She is editor at large for McSweeney’s, the deputy editor of The Believer, and a contributing editor at NOON. She lives in San Francisco and teaches at the California College of the Arts and the University of San Francisco.

Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel

Get a copy of Headshot by Rita Bullwinkel on Amazon or Bookshop

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