Rash by Pete Hautman

Rash In the second half of the twenty first century, Bo Marsten lives in the United Safe States of America, where everything is so safe, it’s completely mind-numbing. To play any sports, you have to wear about 50 pounds of safety gear, and if you call someone a name or, god forbid, get in an actual fistfight; you’re looking at a minimum of two years jail time. The laws are so strict because in the future, the USSA runs on penal work. Everyone doing time works on road crews or food factories. When Bo, who has a few anger management issues, is accused of giving his classmates a psychosomatic rash (because they’re supposedly terrified of him) he is sentenced to several months of pepperoni shooting in a Canadian pizza factory. There, he is noticed by Hammer, the factory boss who also coaches a highly illegal tackle football team. Football is Bo’s first taste of freedom and danger, and he is surprised at how much he likes the rough game. But when his term is up, how can Bo return to the claustrophobic safety of regular society? Which is more important? Being safe, or feeling free? Riffing on everything from global commercialization to political correctness, the always brilliant and multifaceted Hautman is at the top of his game in Rash, a satirical, pointed comedy chock full of intelligent laughs.

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