I love the freewheeling energy in this story, with some of the same characters who appear in other of DW Wilson’s stories. There are clipped, pared-down sentences, characteristic of US fiction, but appropriate here as the three main characters travel long distance by car through Canada, free you think maybe for the first time in a long time. It’s quite traditional in subject matter, a couple and a male friend, Animal, and their raw emotions. But Wilson captures the landscape they travel through, which the reader senses he knows well. There’s a latent violence pulsing through which rises to a head when they meet a Native American, and when Animal is almost killed. All the way, the tension between the men, with the girl, Vic, between them is beautifully conveyed, but underplayed, so the ending is well earned, balanced and evocative.
First published in The BBC National Short Story Award 2011, Comma Press. Collected in Once You Break A Knuckle, Bloomsbury, 2012
In 2010 the Booker Foundation inaugurated a scholarship at UEA that remains the most generous we have to offer. The recipient is chosen by the tutors on the strength of the writing in their MA application portfolio, and Dave (DW) Wilson was our unanimous choice for the first award – largely on the strength of this story. Born in Canada, a graduate of the University of Victoria, he was then in his early 20s, and already appeared to have found his voice and his themes. Dave writes to a particular cadence, his sentences beautifully weighted. He registers the shifting weather of moods, and the eloquence of the small gesture. Above all he finds the soft spots in the armour of blue-collar masculinity. His stories reek of maleness, and sadness, and here in ‘The Elasticity of Bone’ he finds a way of speaking about the love of a father and son through the medium of judo. They fight, and it means the opposite of fighting. Soon after graduation this became the opening story in his debut collection.
In Once You Break A Knuckle, Hamish Hamilton, 2011