We gave it a B
Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. That’s both the epigraph to Cavell’s violent debut story collection and a fair summation of how each tale operates. His characters are boxers, killers, paintball fanatics, paranoids, and trash-talkers; typical is the codeine-popping light heavyweight who imagines cracking open his skull and using ”steel wool to scrape the bruises off of my steaming brains.” Cavell’s writing is lean and mean, stripped down to make his cast of imploding alpha males all the more naked and frightening. It’s also perhaps too stripped down to earn the early comparisons to more narratively expansive writers like Pugilist at Rest’s Thom Jones — let alone Hemingway and Mailer. Still, Rumble is a promising first round.