100 Books in a Year #67: Rust and Bone by Craig Davidson
Whoever recommended this collection of short stories to me — I fucking love your face. I haven’t had my ass kicked this hard by a badass collection of short stories since the equally visceral Rumble, Young Man, Rumble by Benjamin Cavell. Davidson writes about toughness, sports, and brutality in ways that savage the fucking mind. He writes like every word is meant to scar you permanently. The stories are vicious, disgusting, and cruel, and they will beat you in the face and crush your nose with a right hook that will crumble the cartilage. It’s going to fuck your throat and make you pay for dinner afterwards to wash the taste of your weak kisses out of its mouth.
Rust and Bone, the title story, comes from the taste a boxer feels in his mouth when he gets his face punched. As in blood and bone chips. The stories are heartrendingly beautiful while their eye-gougingly painful. A man mauled in a dogfighting ring thinks of fatherhood. A boxer shatters the bones in his hands punching through ice to save his nephew. A stuntman at an aquarium theme park goes for an awful ride.
The stories aren’t all perfect, and the last one — The Apprentice’s Guide to Modern Magic — gets a little long and weird. But they are still excellent reads, even when they falter into the realm of the pathetic. They are uncomfortable stories to read, and even more amusing when you get a gander at Davidson’s Canadian glint from the back page. He’s pudgy and bespectacled, with just the hint of a tribal tattoo peeking out from under a short sleeve. He would do well at Pajiba.
I can not highly recommend this collection enough. It was such a fucking thrill ride, and Davidson manages to weave stories together, so that characters and incidents overlap, which I’m a fucking sucker for. I want to find out if he’s written anything else and get my hands on it immediately. You would do well to do the same.