Book Review: RUST AND BONE

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Craig Davidson’s Rust and Bone is a powerful collection of eight short stories, and each story deals with a character going through an emotionally dark time. The book offers a rogue’s gallery of misanthropes, with hatred for themselves and by association, the world around them.

Davidson’s gritty collection features: a down on his luck fighter with a regret filled past (Rust and Bone); an alcoholic father who wants his estranged son to play professional basketball (The Rifleman); an impotent advertising man with a love of dog-fighting (A Mean Utility); a water-park worker who loses his legs in a freak accident (Rocket Ride); a debt collector with an ill wife (On Sleepless Roads); a sex addict with no emotional attachment (Friction), a boxing-trainer living in Thailand (Life In The Flesh) and the grown-up children of a magician who mysteriously ‘vanished’ during an act (An Apprentice’s Guide To Modern Magic). Both Rust and Bone and Rocket Ride were combined to form the critically acclaimed Marion Cotillard film, Rust and Bone.

Davidson’s book is beautifully written, bleak has never been so appealing. The author creates a series of characters that fit perfectly into the world surrounding them. It’s dramatic noir, a grimy world of self-indulgence, sleaze and heartbreak. These characters are looking for emotional redemption, a means of escaping their inner-torment, but it is their own self-loathing which is holding them back. Davidson juggles humour, romance, tragedy and addiction, blending them together in tales which are sometimes (loosely) interwoven. It’s a textured world, one that is lit by dingy streetlamps and garish neon and filled with sweating gyms and grubby bars. The eight stories are packed with so much detail that they have immense re-readability; meaning that Rust and Bone will be read, reread and recommended for years to come.

Rust and Bone is published by Picador Books.