Book: Rust and Bone Stories

By now most film lovers will have probably seen Jacques Audiard’s latest chef-d’oeuvre De Rouille et d’Os, but not everyone will have followed the film’s path to the big screen and explored the collection of short stories by Canadian author Craig Davidson, from which the film is derived.

While Audiard chose to highlight two of the book’s stories (“Rust and Bone” and “Rocket Ride”), Davidson’s collection actually features eight insanely detailed, masculine, tough, dejected tales of life. And while the book’s themes (including dog fighting, disability and sex addiction) don’t offer many glimpses of hope and present a stark, often-pessimistic reality, misery, for the most part in this book, is good company.

From the collection, “Rocket Ride” and “On Sleepless Roads” are the two Fohnhouse favourites, with the former being the origin of Marion Cotillard’s depiction in De Rouille et d’Os. “Rocket Ride” features a male whale trainer as opposed to Audiard’s female, but Davidson uses wit and great detail to make this ride a moving and memorable one. Every story seems to want to teach us some kind of lesson or wake us up to the harsh realities of life, and these two tales possess great spirit and state their cases in a subtle, contemplative and sympathetic way. We often hear it sung that we live in a man’s world, but our two preferred stories in Rust and Bone, irrespective of the gender of the characters, are two of the more neutral tales in a book that dances, hugely, to a macho beat.

Rust and Bone doesn’t give us any of Audiard’s romance and does, on occasion, get bogged down with such excessive description that the basic idea of a couple of stories gets lost, but Davidson’s collection is, nevertheless, engaging and thoughtful, and will hopefully garner a bigger exposure thanks to the film adaptation.