In The Knockout Artist, Crews moves from the poor white Georgia-Florida setting of his earlier novels, to the urban culture of New Orleans. The struggle for survival and fulfillment on every level of existence remains Crews's dominant concern, however, and the affluent sophisticates of New Orleans are as partial, needy, and destructive as their redneck counterparts.
Their greater wealth and sophistication only makes them more powerful and therefore more dangerous — the danger more difficult to detect and control.
Trying to make his way in and through this treacherous world is Eugene Talmadge Biggs, the Knockout Artist. Son of an impoverished family in economically depressed Georgia, Eugene must survive on his own. The hope of escaping a life of dead-end, unskilled jobs flashes briefly when his speed, agility, and determination make him an undercard success at boxing.
But when increasingly tough opponents eventually find his glass jaw...