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By Greg Bottoms

In an intricately associated sequence of poetic, brief stories set in a 1983 suburb, Greg Bottoms portrays his lifestyles as one in every of “at-risk” boys as they try and methods to be—and what it capacity to be—men. by means of turns humorous, disquieting, and relocating, Fight Scenes takes an unsparing examine juvenile disaffection and the darkish part of white, working-class masculinity. via narrating his reviews with adolescence blood brother Mark, Bottoms indicates what percentage of America’s younger males learn how to take into consideration paintings, intercourse, weak point, violence, and themselves.
In a pared-down, hugely readable kind that brings to brain the paintings of Raymond Carver, Sherman Alexie, and Denis Johnson, Bottoms has created a piece of literature that indicates how even the main authorized kinds of “toughness” may have a harmful, disorienting, and eventually dehumanizing influence on all people, particularly kids.

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He lived along with his aged mom, whom I occasionally observed sitting in a bathrobe on her porch—smoke-colored hair, face having a look boneless. He used to be consistently telling—making up—stories of his sexual exploits, so a few older childrens had began calling him “superfreak,” which morphed into Rick James. Rick drank like somebody attempting to kill himself. It used to be like observing a technology experiment—his mouth a palsied spit dispenser, his head too heavy for his neck. He touched humans, wept brazenly in public, his hands issues intended to topple within sight gadgets, which unexpectedly looked as if it would get within the approach. I had as soon as came across him sound asleep within the woods. i assumed he was once lifeless, took off for domestic, maintaining quiet, no longer short of fifty seven struggle Scenes[2]. indd fifty seven 6/30/08 11:41:37 AM Greg Bottoms to be the child within the paper who chanced on the physique. Later i used to be shocked to work out him, strolling alongside the street, hitchhiking—pasty, dirt-stained, bits of his hair on finish as though he had simply gotten up and doing. On Tuesday mornings he was once often sober, notwithstanding, ingesting coffee on the 7-Eleven, on his method to a building website, the prior a number of days misplaced, as though carved correct out of his concepts. Thursdays after paintings, broke, shaking, he’d purchase beer for children so long as the kids—Mark and that i tonight—paid for and shared the booze. I sat down a number of ft from Rick at the uncovered cinderblock beginning behind the construction. Mark sat at the plywood floor. anyone had taken shiny orange spray paint, the type used to mark fuel and sewer traces ahead of backhoes move digging, and written suck my moms dick and celebration til u die on a few plywood leaning opposed to the two-by-four studs. Rick handed us each one a lager from the twelve-pack. He used to be donning blue paintings pants, a filthy white V-neck T-shirt with greenish-brown oval stains lower than the fingers, and scuffed brown boots with brief, white, damaged shoestrings conserving them tight. “Thanks,” Mark acknowledged, popping the beer open. Rick chugged the first beer and beaten the can. He was once sturdier with a few alcohol, the first sips of which appeared to have magical therapeutic homes. He was once greater than two times fifty eight struggle Scenes[2]. indd fifty eight 6/30/08 11:41:38 AM Fight Scenes our size—maybe 210 kilos to our a hundred and one zero five. I drank as quick as i'll, attempting to get buzzed, belching among gulps. “Why don’t you men take your shirts off? guy, it’s hot,” Rick stated. “I’m now not hot,” Mark acknowledged. “Me neither,” I stated. “It’s beautiful sizzling. You’d be more well-off in the event you took off your shirts. ” “I’m now not taking mine off, Rick,” Mark stated. Rick usually requested us to take off a few of our outfits, and there has been a rumor that he and one other man who wandered round our urban with headphones on cherished to “doggy” one another, as we known as it, out within the woods, yet I don’t recognize if that used to be precise. “Ashamed of your muscle groups? ” Rick stated. “Not quite,” Mark stated. as soon as it used to be transparent we weren’t going to take our shirts off, Rick chugged one other beer and threw the beaten can opposed to a stack of forums. “That younger Jim Creedy is a prick,” he acknowledged. He used to be into his 3rd beer. He appeared under the influence of alcohol already.

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