[For the previous countdown post, click here.]
26. “The Entourage” (1994)
It’s hardly surprising that a two-fisted writer like Partridge is a boxing aficionado (his crime-novel duology, Saguaro Riptide and The Ten Ounce Siesta, features an ex-pugilist protagonist). He has also written a couple of terrific stories centered on prizefighting; I’ve selected this one rather than “The Cut Man” because of its unabashed bizarreness (in the opening paragraph, the narrator smuggles a living mummy into a sports arena inside a suitcase). “The Entourage” has a powerful premise: the eponymous friends/hangers-on of champion boxer the Bonegrinder aren’t shiftless sycophants but can actually feed off violent energy in their midst (and then channel it toward the Bonegrinder in the ring). Such dynamic leads to some scenes of stunning gruesomeness during a title fight, with the bloodshed spreading throughout the arena. Partridge pulls no punches here, in a narrative that uses the fantastic to comment on the nature and allure of violence.