In the Cage

Kevin Hardcastle. Biblioasis (Consortium, U.S. dist.; UTP, Canadian dist.), $24.95 (292p) ISBN 978-1-77196-147-9
Hardcastle’s debut novel (following the story collection Debris), all bare-bones sentences and salt-of-the-earth characters, will find a following with fans of Chuck Palahniuk. Daniel, the book’s scarred but hopeful protagonist, is an itinerant MMA fighter who returns to his depressed Ontario hometown after an injury sidelines him. He is soon jobless and has to become a local thug’s enforcer in order to support his family and pay his mortgage. Once released from that contract, he struggles to get by working as a welder. Before long, his dream to fight in the ring again collides catastrophically with a childhood friend now caught up in the town’s criminal underworld. The brutal, blood-soaked concluding chapters suggest that Daniel’s wife is wholly mistaken when she tells him, “We’ll make do.” Readers less smitten than the novel is with Daniel’s masculine physicality and capacity to inflict harm might find the bleakness of the setting overwrought and the Grand Guignol bloodiness less an insightful account of poverty in contemporary Canada than macho pulp fiction. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2017
Release date: 10/01/2017
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-77196-148-6
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