cover image Fighting in the Shade

Fighting in the Shade

Sterling Watson. Akashic, $15.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-936070-98-5

High school football mixes with Faust in this blitz of a novel from Watson (The Calling). Billy Dyer is the new kid in town at his Florida high school during the mid-1960s. He's also a talented football player who brings an element of violence to the game, and during a perverse hazing ritual, Billy refuses to endure humiliation and busts his way out with the same force he brings to his football playing. The ensuing fight has dire consequences: Billy is kicked off the team, but, more significantly, during the melee, he badly hurts one of his teammates. With the team now shorthanded and losing, the school's boosters beg Billy to come back to the team, and out of concern for his mother%E2%80%94recently divorced from Billy's alcoholic lawyer father, and none too well-off%E2%80%94Billy negotiates a price and becomes a star, but at what cost? Meanwhile, Billy's father may be in on some dodgy dealings with a shady character who has an interest in the team, and, more pointedly, in Billy. The novel avoids slipping into morality tale excess as it spins out a big Dennis Lehane%E2%80%93like story of society, opportunity, and consequences, revealing Watson as an accomplished storyteller. (Aug.)