Monday, November 19, 2007

Craig Davidson

Craig Davidson's stories have been published in The Fiddlehead, Event, Prairie Fire, and SubTerrain. His debut collection of stories, Rust and Bone, was called "remarkable ... challenging and upsetting, but never boring" by Chuck Palahniuk and "the best I've read in a long time from a young writer" by Bret Easton Ellis. He also writes horror fiction under a pseudonym.

His novel The Fighter was published by Penguin in Canada and Soho Press in the U.S.

From a Q & A about the book:

What motivated you to write a book about boxing and illegal fighting?

Good question. Perhaps, in the long run, I should’ve written a book about teenage angst in a small Mennonite community. There might be more of a market for that sort of story.

Anyway, I wrote what I wrote. As for my motivation — I’ve come to understand that I’m not totally sure about myself, my motivations. I mean, I THINK I know why I’m doing what I’m doing, why I set myself down this or that path, but in the end, I end up mystifying myself as much as I end up mystifying my readers, potentially. As I wrote in the book: The brain is a subtle organ, and it goes wrong in subtle ways. Not to say there’s anything wrong with my brain (at least, I’d like to hope not), but more to say that some of the stuff that came to me while writing this book ... well, I’m not entirely sure where it came from. But I chose to write it down, so the responsibility is mine.

But, to concretely answer your question: I’ve been fascinated with boxing, with fighting, for a long time. It’s a love/hate thing. I love the discipline of it, the training and the monk-like life of a dedicated boxer, and I love how sometimes, in the ring, two men (or women) can bring something out of each other that neither really thought s/he had in him. But most "real" boxing stories — discounting the "Rocky"-style Hollywood movies — are tragic. Boxers are abused by their managers, treated like cattle, and most often hang on too long and get hurt in ways they can’t recover from. They do it because they don’t really understand a life that doesn’t involve boxing; they’re incapable of existing without the sport.

But more crucially, boxing/illegal fighting allowed me the frame upon which to drape some of the main issues of the novel: the changing role of manhood in today’s society, and the fears and insecurities and regrets of that changing role; fathers and sons; a life of privilege versus a life of modest means. Anyway, it’s my sense a lot of writers do this: the main thrust or theme of a book is something that, yes, fascinates that writer — but the fascination lies as much in the offshoots or the repercussions of that theme than it does in the theme itself. If that makes any sense, which conceivably it does not.

Read the entire Q & A.

The Page 99 Test: The Fighter.

--Marshal Zeringue