Cascade, by Craig Davidson

Rust and Bone

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Click here to read an excerpt from "A Mean Utility."

Click here to check out Craig's 'Picador Story Shot.'


A brilliant and urgent debut collection by a young writer exploring the darkest corners of human experience.

IN STEEL-TIPPED PROSE, Craig Davidson conjures a savage world populated by fighting dogs, prizefighters, sex addicts, and gamblers. The twenty-seven bones of the title story are the bones in a boxer's hands; once broken, they never heal properly, and the fighter's career descends to bouts that have less to do with sport than with survival: no referee, no rules, not even gloves. In "A Mean Utility" we enter an even more desperate arena: dogfights where Rottweilers, pit bulls, and Dobermans fight each other to the death.

Davidson's stories are small monuments to the telling detail. The hostility of his fictional universe is tempered by the humanity he invests in his characters and by his subtle and very moving observations of their motivations. He shares with Chuck Palahniuk the uncanny ability to compel our attention, time and time again, to the most difficult subject matter.


Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club
"Smudges the line between comedy and horror, cruelty and mercy. His remarkable stories are challenging and upsetting, but never boring."

Bret Easton Ellis
"Big, riveting stories about tough guys in trouble…the best I've read in a long time from a young writer."

Thom Jones
"When it comes to raw power, Davidson is truly a force to be reckoned with."

Peter Straub
"He is a writer of immense power and surprising, accurate insights."

Joseph Boyden
"Craig Davidson is a wickedly good storyteller who weaves worlds out of blood and magic and humanity."

Clive Barker
"There is a strikingly original tone to Mr. Davidson's stories. . . . This is in every way an extraordinary book."


From Publishers Weekly
A strong stomach, an open mind and a morbid sense of humor are essential to enjoying Davidson's accomplished, macabre first collection. Calamity lurks around every corner, these stories suggest, and you never know when fate will smite you—only that it will. Davidson catapults his characters (sex addicts, fighters, gamblers and drinkers) into ingeniously grim situations that test their will. In "Rocket Ride," a young man who loses his leg to the orca he performs with in a marine park show tries to rebuild his life, in part by attending meetings of the Unlimbited Potential support group, which is full of substance-abusing amputees who wonder if karma's to blame for their plights. In the gruesome "A Mean Utility," a normal-seeming couple—an ad exec and his wife, a nurse—breed and fight vicious dogs, while in the sad "On Sleepless Roads," a repo man leaves one night's job not with the camper he was supposed to reclaim, but with the destitute man's hamster and guinea pig, which he brings home to his disabled wife. Davidson, 30, is a fine young writer with a keen sense of the absurd and a bracing, biting wit, but his focus on gore may keep many readers from appreciating his obvious talent. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist
Like author Thom Jones in the story collection The Pugilist at Rest (1993) and novelist Marc Bojanowski in The Dog Fighter (2004), Davidson's eight short stories home in on men addicted to action, depicting boxers, basketball players, and gamblers in kinetic, ferociously detailed prose. In the title story, a boxer mournfully chants the names of the 27 bones that make up the human hand, all of which he has broken in the course of a career that now sees him fighting in ever-seedier venues. He sees the beauty of boxing even as he admits that his fights are a matter of survival and atonement for past sins. In "A Mean Utility," ad executive James Paris, frustrated by his and his wife's attempts to conceive, displaces his paternal feelings onto his pit bull, Matilda. He overmatches her with a vicious rottweiler, then experiences a change of heart, wading into the fray to save his pup and losing a chunk of his leg in the process. Davidson matches his stellar, energetic descriptions of physical confrontation with subtle, quirky explorations of human motivation.

Joanne Wilkinson; Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.