Friday, July 8, 2016

The Fallow Season of Hugo Hunter, by Craig Lancaster

In Craig Lancaster's fourth novel, The Fallow Season of Hugo Hunter, he explores new ground in familiar territory.  Hugo Hunter, a famous boxer who bumped up against greatness without ever really getting there, is in the waning days of his career.  Mark Westerly, a sports writer for the Billings paper, has followed Hugo's career since Hugo was a teenager.  The Fallow Season reflects on both of these men's careers and the friendship that evolved over the 20 years they've known one another.

Born and raised in Billings, Montana, Hugo was local hero after he came home with a silver medal from the Olympics.  Reviews of the fight, in which the judge disqualified him, clearly show that he should not have been DQed, and should have won the gold.  This sort of bad luck, exacerbated by his own self-destructiveness, follow him in his boxing career.  He potentially could have been a world champion, but. . . .

The Fallow Season covers those buts.  Lancaster's readers will not be surprised to hear that he deftly builds his complex characters, weaves their stories together, and draws the reader into their worlds.  Lancaster writes (forgive my terrible paraphrase from memory) that in fiction everything happens for a reason, while in real life, everything just happens.  In the arc of the story of Hugo Hunter, there is a feeling of everything just happening.  Hugo and Mark's lives are not particularly admirable, but their friendship and personalities make their story worth reading. 

(Fans of Lancaster's Edward books will be pleased to know that Edward makes a significant appearance in The Fallow Season.  In the interest of not being a spoiler, I will leave it at that!)

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