One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist: Stories

One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist: Stories

One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist: Stories

One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist: Stories

Synopsis

Rare voices in fiction, the lives of the working class consume this collection. Winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist brings to life the narratives of midwestern blue-collar workers. In these sixteen stories, author Dustin M. Hoffman invites readers to peek behind the curtain of the invisible-but-ever-present "working stiff" as he reveals their lives in full complexity, offering their gruff voices--so often ignored--without censorship.

The characters at the heart of these stories work with their hands. They strive to escape invisibility. They hunt the ghost of recognition. They are painters, drywall finishers, carpenters, roofers, oil refinery inspectors, and hardscapers, all aching to survive the workday. They are air force firemen, snake salesmen, can pickers, ice-cream truck drivers, and Jamaican tour guides, seething forth from behind the scenes. They are the underemployed laborers, the homeless, the retired, the fired, the children born to break their backs. One-Hundred-Knuckled Fist initiates readers into the secret nightmares and surprising beauty and complexity of a sweat-stained, blue-collar world.

Excerpt

He's supposed to be pushing the knives. thrusting them up to the humming tube lighting of the supermarket so the polished steel sparkles, so you can almost hear the reflected twinkle slide across the blade. But gazing into vast ceilings, pure white girders grazed by boxed and shrink-wrapped bulk products towering in twenty-foot-tall aisles, makes him dizzy. He’d prefer to keep his head down. He should be showing off the sexy curves of the fillet knife, flaunting the no-nonsense power of the bulking cleaver. Instead, he runs his fingers over the name tag pinned to his white chef’s uniform complete with the white hat that poofs at the top like an atomic mushroom cloud, his thinning hairline tightly concealed underneath the explosion. His name tag is bright gold. the grooves of his name are sharp and cut skillfully, deeply. It reads, “Wyatt.” But how can he live up to “Wyatt” engraved in gold, sparkling in tube lights like the knives should be?

A woman with short brown hair barely stretched into a ponytail and wearing gray sweatpants pushes a cart toward his stand. One of the wheels squeaks shrilly. It reminds Wyatt of the tenor in his trainer’s voice, the guy with the sharp triangle of black facial hair below his lower lip who wore the managerial navy-blue chef’s uniform. His two weeks of training just ended yesterday, but he can . . .

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