Done: Cataract City by Craig Davidson, 2013, 9781555976743.
Long at 390 pages. I generally dig Davidson's work but took a break about halfway through this. Work related tensions were bleeding over into whatever I was reading and making me dislike the books.
Davidson keeps hitting at some of his favorite themes. Being poor in a nowhere town with no way to move up. Boxing for cash. Self-destructive behavior with booze. Strong friendships that are strained. Parents who love their children but fail them - or, instead, are rejected by their teen children. Border life between Ontario/Quebec and NY.
Duncan and Owen are best buddies. Their dads are best buddies. Both dads work at the local food plant and Owen's dad went to night school and entered management. Petty small town arguments erupt in a parking lot after a summertime pro-wrestling show. As the fathers of Duncan and Owen are scooped up by the cops the boys are scooped up by their pro-wrestling idol, Bruiser Mahoney. Bruiser Mahoney says he will drive them home. Bruiser Mahoney starts to drinking and doping and decides to teach them a lesson - in a good way - by taking them camping in the woods. Bruiser Mahoney ODs in his sleep and the boys are lost in the Ontario woods. The days spent trecking their way out are a milestone.
The boys are separated by their parents. They reunite as teens when Duncan finds abandoned greyhounds. Duncan races his dog and bets his dog against the doped up dog owned by scumbag smuggler Lemmy Drinkwater.
Owen heads to police college. Duncan moves in with his girlfriend, loses his factory job, fights bare knuckle bouts hosted by Drinkwater on a reservation, agrees to smuggle cigarettes for Drinkwater, kills Drinkwater's goon in self-defense but goes to prison because he was smuggling at the time.
Duncan gets out of prison looking to get even with Drinkwater. Things happen. Duncan and Owen wish their lives were better and they could escape Cataract. Cataract is a dying town adjoined with Niagara Falls. None of the small-time glitz of the Falls carries to Cataract. So on. So forth.
Davidson always writes about bodies and motion. Muscled greyhounds digging into a track's sand. How some greyhounds cannot compete because their rear legs will kick out to the side. Smashing nose cartilage and broken hands. Swallowing blood that the shattered nose drains into the throat. Cutting a swollen forehead during a boxing match. Freezing toes in winter woods and peeling off the dead toenails.