cover image Kayfabe


Chris Koslowski. McSweeney’s, $28 (408) ISBN 978-1-9521-1985-9

In this brisk and punchy debut from Koslowski, a brother and sister tour the fringes of the East Coast wrestling circuit. Twenty-something Domingo Contreras, “well into middle age” in “wrestling years,” travels from show to show with his 17-year-old sister, Pilar, in a Honda Civic barely large enough for his hulking body. When he accidentally breaks an opponent’s arm, he worries his career may be over. He’s pinned all his hopes on getting Pilar, a talented athlete in her own right, an audition with Mid-Coast Championship Wrestling promotion, but the owner demurs. As a result, Dom takes a new role as the Cutman, a villain in an underground venue called the Pit, where serious injuries are common. With Dom toiling at the Pit, he and Pilar are driven apart by their differing philosophies about “kayfabe” (the pretense of reality in wrestling’s scripted violence), as Dom embraces real violence while Pilar prefers to view the sport as an art form. Koslowski maintains momentum with action-filled and well-observed descriptions of the matches. It’s a winner. Agent: Justin Brouckaert, Aevitas Creative Management. (Aug.)