Buddy Cooper Finds a Way: A Novel
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When you lose for a living, it's pretty hard to fail.
Once, like all of us, Buddy dreamt of success. He and his wife, Alix, had just bought a new place, not too far from the beach. Their daughter, Brook, was out of the hospital. And the fans were cheering him on as the Invincible Man, one of the rising stars of the Southeastern Wrestling Confederacy.
Then everything fell apart. An argument over Monday Night Football somehow crossed the line, Alix kicked him out, and Buddy moved in to the Motel 6. After that, winning just didn't seem right, so he traded in his golden cape for a latex mask and became one of the anonymous losers that fans love to hate. Every few weeks, he'd get a new mask, rechristen himself, and step into the ring to get beat all over again -- as the Grave Digger or the Widow Maker, the Deadbeat Dad or the Unknown Kentucky Terror. In the four years since the divorce, his record is 0-186, but that's okay by Buddy.
Free of mad notions like happiness and success, he pops pink pills to control his rage and copes with his insomnia by watching John Wayne westerns and QVC. He has his job, his apartment, his truck, his once-a-week visits with Brook. Life as a failure isn't that bad, or so he's convinced himself.
But now in an effort to boost pay-per-view ratings, Buddy's boss threatens a shake-up. As part of the plan, Buddy will have to end his safe days as a professional loser. He's actually slated to win a match. What he'll learn, though, is that like all new scripts, this one comes with its own cast and complications: a phone psychic living in fear, an alien-abductee with the secret to salvation, a championship match interrupted by a violent fanatic, what could be faith healings, and perhaps the most unlikely miracle of all -- a second chance to believe.
A touching and wonderfully unpredictable literary debut about a professional loser who's forced into a rematch with life, Buddy Cooper Finds a Way announces the arrival of a fresh and original voice in American fiction.
head, Al says, “You need to think this through.” “Consider where we are in the story. The big fight’s over. All that’s left now is the healing and Snake’s conversion. We’re way beyond verisimilitude. This is what Coppola would do. Remember Brando and that cat? Trust me, this is a masterstroke. Great art imitates life.” Alix circles around the front of the Lincoln and joins her husband. When she hands him the keys, he grips her fingers for a second and squeezes. She squeezes back, a secret
his face, but my target shifts and I crash my heel down on the recorder, sending plastic shrapnel exploding everywhere. I turn to the crowd, give it a hard scan. On the stage Mrs. Somebody Rich and Important holds a hand to her mouth. Rhonda stares over her shoulder, squinting into the darkness I’m on the edge of. The rest of the audience is looking my way, and I can feel the weight of Alix’s eyes. I spin, hoping nobody got a good look at my face, and bolt. My open hands ram the door, my feet
takes a long breath. “I was, like, going to call you when I got in tonight.” I ask her why. She shrugs. “Just wanted to know how you were doing with the day. I’ve got a calendar too, you know.” For thirteen, there really isn’t much you can get past her. “I’m doing fine,” I tell her. “Really.” And this is the absolute truth. Since first donning a mask my life makes more sense. Giving up that Rocky Balboa crap was a one hundred percent therapeutic decision. When you embrace defeat as a way of
colors as an unmitigated coward.” Grinning, Quinn presses a button on the gray box. Three firecracker shots launch three streaks arching into the late-afternoon sky ahead of us. The three flares, roaring side by side toward the beach, trail three smoky tails colored red, white, and blue. On the monitor, the Maestro turns toward the ocean and says, “Egads!” Quinn touches his headgear and says, “Victor, if you please” into his mike and a moment later I hear it through the monitor, blasting over
that adrenaline high. There was a second, as I swam hard for my daughter, when I wished that Grendel was real. I’m not saying I wish Brook was actually in genuine danger, but afterward while I was concocting the official incident report for the paddleboat lady, I thrilled as I reimagined my approach to a savage predator. Mano a mano. No doubts or complications or court fees. Just the two of us. I’m not convinced that killing Trevor would be a completely immoral act. It’s just a part of the