Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Catching Up #34: Craig Davidson's The Fighter

Yeah, that's right, dear reader: The Nerd is doing yet another catching up post on some shit that ain't quite noir/crime. Right now you're no doubt thinking, What the fuck, Nerd? You're diluting the brand! A short story collection and now whatever the fuck this book is? What next? Are you gonna start reviewing fucking cat mysteries or some such bullshit?

Well, irate-as-all-hell reader, let me well-fucking-assure you that I will never post any shit up here that isn't dark as fuck. I mean, my poop-mouthing and ranting wouldn't make any sense if I were reviewing a Lillian Jackson Braun classic ("KoKo's badass clue-sniffing skills will have you licking your filthy fucking paws while Yum Yum is one hot-ass piece of feline tail!") or some other tame piece of shit. I would also never throw away your trust by pontificating on the latest Philip Roth novel I've read (love the shit out of his books though I do) or any other similarly non-violent novel. I mean shit, have a little faith in the Nerd, dear reader.

Especially when it comes to The Fighter, Craig Davidson's Canadian Fight Club for Generation Y. Shit, that should be all I have to say about this mofo, but I'll go on. The Nerd's got time to bloggify and he's gonna use it up thusly.

The Fighter is the story of twenty-something Ontario rich boy Paul Harris and working class upstate New York amateur boxing teen sensation Rob Tulley. Rob wants out of the life but he's too much of a born natural (and his uncle and father have invested too much time in his training) to shit on his ticket out of blue collar-dom. Paul has been coasting through life working for his old man's winery business until he gets the shit kicked out of him one night, an event that makes him want to see just how much punishment he can stand. Rob trains and looks for excuses not to fight while Paul gets more and more masochistic (and 'roid-filled) until the two come together in The Barn, a place for modern day gladiators on the Canadian-American border.

As with Fight Club, there's plenty of angry-young-man-who-fights-to-feel-something stuff in The Fighter. Paul's life gains a purpose once he discovers fighting. He figures he can never out-do his father's more traditional masculine achievements - building a successful wine business from the ground-up, wife-and-kids and all that - but he must know if he could thrive in a more primitive masculine way - taking and giving out punishment with his bare-fucking-hands (Speaking of Fight Club, there's a sly reference to the earlier classic in the form of a rich kid who Paul himself beats up who then becomes a radical animal rights activist who lives on Paper Street...).

But enough with the masculinity discussion bullshit. I mean, what next? The Nerd's gonna start pontificating about James Dickey and Cormac McCarthy or some such hoidy-toidy douchery? What stands out in this ass-kicker is the violence, which is plentiful and painful. If you find better descriptions of carnage, send that shit the Nerd's way. On second thought, I'm not sure I could handle shit much rougher than The Fighter. Yeah, I just said that shit. This shit hurts that fucking much.

Plus, this shit is funny, moving and full of awesome lore. There's shit in here about the good old days of traveling fighters going town-to-town betting they can take any man in the county along with shit about modern underground fighting circuits where they douse their wrapped fists in lye or worse. I mean, there's enough awesome fighting lore in this bitch to fill a hundred books. Then there's shit about steroids and boxing training and...goddamn this fucker Davidson has a ton of fucking cool ideas.

Crime novel or not, the Nerd guarantees that The Fighter will give you your sick noir jollies from page one onward. It's violent, it's challenging, it's sick, it's sad, and it's a fucking fast-as-all-hell read. Trust the Nerd, dear readers. It's not like he's asking you to pick up a quilting mystery here, for fuck's sake.

1 comment:

Keith Rawson said...

As about as noir as you can get in my opinion. I've read the Fighter and Davidson's short story collection Rust and Bone a couple of times, and both are the shit. Plus, Davidson is a method writer. In order to research the effects of steroids on the human body for the Fighter, he juiced for six months, turning his flabby writer body into a chiseled greek statue. Yeah, he lost most of his hair and shrank his nads to raisins in the process, but you have to admire the dedication.