Never mind that you've seen the basic plot on a dozen old "B" movies, or that many of the characters are familiar stereotypes. The star of "Sunday Punch" is really the English language itself.
Edwin Newman uses the scenes of this comic novel to poke fun at the linguistic behavior of sportswriters and Washington socialites, academicians and "happy talk" TV newscasters. He gleefully parodies regionalisms, makes plays on words, and points an accusing finger at assorted verbal fads and clichés.
Such attention to language is only to be expected from a veteran television correspondent who in past years wrote the nonfiction best sellers "Strictly Speaking" and "A Civil Tongue." Both these books humorously lambasted a variety of follies, foibles, and needless obfuscations in current American writing and speech.
"Sunday Punch" chronicles the meteoric career of an unlikely athlete named Aubrey Philpott-Grimes, who rises from the obscurity of British amateur boxing to become a contender for the middleweight championship of the world….
[The book gives] a lot of chuckles, although few belly laughs. There is no element of depth to give it a more enduring appeal. But even for people like me, who reach to switch off the TV at the mere mention of boxing, "Sunday Punch" makes entertaining reading.
Spencer Punnett, "Pulling Punches," in The Christian Science Monitor (reprinted by permission from The Christian Science Monitor; © 1979 The Christian Science Publishing Society; all rights reserved), June 6, 1979, p. 19.
[In Sunday Punch Newman] cranks up a very ancient vehicle—the B-movie prizefight story. Every fixture is in place. There is the incongruous fighter [, the comic manager, the sinister gangster, the fighter's sweetheart, and the newspaper man who tells the story]…. It would be too much to call the result a comic novel. It is too lightweight, too frolicsome for that. It is merely extremely funny.
"Books: 'Sunday Punch'," in The New Yorker (© 1979 by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc.), Vol. LV, No. 18, June 18, 1979, p. 110.
Sunday Punch [is] a Wodehousian excursion that is lighter than air and twice as much fun as laughing gas. Its author, having honed his skills in nonfiction sorties against linguistic pretention and misuse, here reveals a merciless ability to mimic all that is silliest in the American way of talking. He also shows a fair eye for general inanity…. Newman pulls no punches; nobody is spared, not even television commentators. But his blows tickle more than they hurt, despite their accuracy. (p. 80)
"Life & Letters: 'Sunday Punch'," in The Atlantic Monthly (copyright © 1979 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. Boston, Mass.; reprinted with permission), Vol. 244, No. 1, July, 1979, pp. 79-80.