Alan Heathcock at NPR says,
I’m not a violent man by nature, but I’ve had my scrapes and I’ve seen more than a few, and if there’s one unassailable truth I know about a fistfight it’s this: It doesn’t matter who strikes first, or most, but only who strikes last. In a fight, to endure is everything. I’m not sure you can ever say someone “wins” a fight, but the last one standing generally stakes that claim. In that vein, the following three books follow winners who endure the slaps and stomps and gouges of a hard life fought well.
I wasn’t familiar with American Salvage by Bonnie Jo Campbell, but Butcher’s Crossing is by John Williams who wrote Stoner, a book I loved. Also, Black Robe by Brian Moore was made into a fairly grim but well constructed movie (1991)—Moore did the screenplay.
I should add that one of the small though endearing characters in my forthcoming novel is described as “indifferent to most human qualities other than endurance.”