Pub date: March 1, 2009
For this punchy, uproarious debut novel, Elaine McCluskey has created a world in which each character is in search of something — success, legitimacy, a way to deal with demons from the past — while the worlds they know — boxing, newspapers, athletic glory — are disappearing all around them.
Ownie Flanagan, a boxing trainer from the old days, is looking for “one real fighter” before he retires. He is not ready to give up or give in, to spend his days at home where his wife runs a cake-decorating business. He works at Tootsy’s, a Dartmouth gym that supports itself by training men with big ambition and vanity but little talent.
Scott MacDonald is a sports reporter with the local paper, assigned to the boxing beat and looking for a story when he meets Ownie. A former competitive kayaker, Scott knows what it is to win and what it is to push oneself to the limits of physical endurance. Yet, he’s stuck, unable to get over his glory days as a paddler, unsure what to do with his future. And he thinks he has found something in the boxing gym where Ownie trains. As he spends more and more time around Ownie and the fighters he trains, he spends less and less at the paper. Like the gym, the newsroom seems like something from a bygone era, whose inhabitants must adapt or be forced out.
Both Ownie and Scott are forced to re-examine themselves and their desires when Turmoil Davies arrives on the scene. A charismatic heavyweight from Trinidad with huge potential, Turmoil is larger-than-life, excessive, and enigmatic. With Ownie’s help, Turmoil moves up through the rankings and seems to single-handedly revive the sport of boxing in the region, until be begins to display some odd behaviour. Peopled with characters from the margins of society, Going Fast rings with devastating insight and wicked humour that displays all of the toughness of the sport. Employing a full measure of linguistic dexterity, McCluskey has created a larger-than-life world where illusions are as real and as unpredictable as the next ten-count.
"A linguistic tour de force. Elaine McCluskey's probing eye for detail is as relentless as a welterweight. Sharp, insightful, and rippingly humorous." - Leo J. McKay Jr.
"Going Fast is tough-minded, compassionate and dark, well-written and frequently hilarious. Elain McCluskey has written a stunning debut novel." - Paul Quarrington