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.)
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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
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