A Mean Utility
Picador, 2006 - 62 pages
In June, 2006, Picador launch Picador Shots, a new series of pocket-sized books priced at £1. The Shots aim to promote the short story as well as the work of some Picador's greatest authors. They will be contemporarily packaged but ultimately disposable books that are the ideal literary alternative to a magazine.
Craig Davidson's stories from Rust and Bone will one of the first of the Shots. In steel-tipped prose, Craig Davidson conjures up a world populated by hard-scrabble pugilists, fighting dogs, sex addicts and others held caption by their own bad luck and bad decisions. In 'A Mean Utility', a young couple with struggling careers and serious issues with conceiving play out their own troubles through the dogs their raise to fight to the death. In 'Life in the Flesh' a ex-boxer escapes to Thailand to try and come to terms with killing his final opponent during a fight. He buries himself in training up-and-coming boxers but the arrival of 'The Kid' - 'late twenties, baggy board-shorts and garish Hawaiian shirt, eyes dark behind oversize wraparounds' challenges him in more ways than he could ever have imagined.
Davidson's stories are small monuments to the telling detail which, despite the darkness within them, also contain moment of redemption and surprising humanity. Visceral and urgent, in turns hilarious and horrifying, these stories are a gripping account of life on the margins.
Praise for Rust and Bone:
‘Stark oppositions often pack the punch in these gritty tales about American tough guys on the ropes… This salty collection more than whets the appetite for Davidson's novel, The Pit, due next year’ Guardian
‘Throughout, the author harnesses his incredible insight to illuminate his characters’ fight, rendering their struggle in spare, startling detail and revealing whole lives in a fistful of pages. But what sets Davidson apart from his peers is the sheer energy and clarity of his prose, all eight of the stories blasting forth with fresh, precise imagery’ The List