Friday, November 16, 2007

Pg. 99: Craig Davidson's "The Fighter"

The latest feature at the Page 99 Test: Craig Davidson's The Fighter.

About the book, from the official website:

Paul Harris leads a sheltered existence. The son of a Niagara winery owner, his suits and cars are paid for, his career in the family business assured. He is insulated from the rough realities of life — until a vicious barroom beating sets him down a new path.

Rob Tully also feels that his life is on a set course. A born boxer with natural talent, Rob trains with his father, Reuben, and his uncle Tommy, both of whom believe that a gift like his can change their lives.

Rob and Paul's fathers want so much more for their sons than they ever had themselves, but both sons are determined to find their own way. While Paul descends into the world of hardcore bodybuilders and boxing gyms, Rob struggles under the expectations set upon his young shoulders.

Their disparate paths lead to The Barn, an underground fight venue where vicious and hopeless men brawl for cold hard cash. No rules, no limits, no brakes. And when two fighters step into a ring where anything goes, sometimes only one walks out.

Set in the violent world of illegal bare-knuckle boxing, The Fighter unflinchingly captures that world's colourful denizens, its bleakness, its bracing and bloody violence. Written with the power and originality of Craig Davidson's debut fiction, Rust and Bone, The Fighter secures his reputation as a talent to watch with this reflection on fathers and sons and on the ultimate question of how a modern man makes his way in today's society.

Among the praise for The Fighter:

"This is more than a stunning debut. It reminds me how vacuous, banal and insipid most highly-touted fiction is. Craig Davidson asks — and answers — some big, uncomfortable questions about the nature of our humanity. The Fighter is an essential novel, destined for cult status at the very least."
—Irvine Welsh

"[Craig Davidson is] a long-time fan of what might be called amicable violence, who will fight you 'if you are here to kick ass and chew bubble gum (and you're all out of bubble gum)' but not if you're a 'noodle-armed fancy lad.'"
The Globe & Mail

"This is one macho-man Canadian scribe ... [and] that has won literary pats-on-the-back from the likes of Bret Easton Ellis and Clive Barker."
National Post

"I've gotten a lot of e-mails from people who are trained boxers wanting to fight me. One's a poet in Toronto, another's a horror writer from Atlanta who wanted me to come down there for this fight party, kind of a Fight Club thing where people brawl."
—Craig Davidson

"...a welcome corrective to the polite, staid, respectable nature of much Canadian fiction these days. The Fighter is a tough, brutal, blood-soaked book that leaves its reader feeling pummelled, battered, and beaten, but nonetheless strangely exhilarated."
Quill & Quire

Perhaps the best possible praise I can heap upon Davidson's debut novel is that The Fighter is less about the bloody, brutal scenes of bare-knuckle boxing than about what it means to be a man - and have some degree of manhood - at a time when many upper-middle-class families will do anything in their power to shield their children from having to pull up any sort of bootstraps and engage in hard work and labor. For that, I must thank Davidson profusely."
Sarah Weinman
Read more about the author and the novel at the official website for The Fighter and at Craig Davidson's website and blog.

Davidson's stories have been published in The Fiddlehead, Event, Prairie Fire, and SubTerrain. His debut collection of stories, Rust and Bone, was called "remarkable ... challenging and upsetting, but never boring" by Chuck Palahniuk and "the best I've read in a long time from a young writer" by Bret Easton Ellis. He also writes horror fiction under a pseudonym.

The Page 99 Test: The Fighter.

--Marshal Zeringue