Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Rust Is A Form Of Fire by Joe Fiorito


Rust Is A Form Of Fire by Joe Fiorito
Published in Canada by Guernica Editions on the 15th May 2015.

One of my Top Ten Books of 2015 and one of my WorldReads from Canada

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Joe Fiorito spent 18 hours in total, over the course of three days, on the corner of Victoria and Queen in downtown Toronto watching the city go by and recording what he saw. The rhythms of the city ebb and flow according to the time of day. The declarative sentence is the best brush to paint an objective portrait of the city we live in. It is an example of what happens when you stay put and observe a single place or thing for a very long time.

In mentioning Rust Is A Form Of Fire in my Watching Aliens review yesterday I realised that I hadn't yet transferred its review over from my Stephanie Jane blog. I read Rust three years ago and it is still a book I remember for its unusual premise and style.

I admit that I wasn't certain what to expect from Rust Is A Form Of Fire. Inside, Joe Fiorito has compiled a series of notes and sentences that recorded his 18 hours of observing random people passing a Toronto street corner. It sounds like a bizarre premise for a book, but I thought that it worked beautifully and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every word. The prose itself is practically poetry, indeed Fiorito mentions this in his introduction.

The people of Toronto appear very much as the people of any major city so it was easy to imagine myself into Fiorito's shoes. However, there were also expressions that I didn't understand - backhoe, 'do rag - and elements such as the regularly passing street cars which reminded me that this was not my city. I would love to see the five figure sculpture for which the book is titled. There is a gentle thread of humour running through the observations, mainly due to the repetitive and mimicking nature of people. Do we really all wear such a limited range of clothing and shoes? Is our ebb and flow so predictable? Does everyone in a city buy takeout coffee?

I would love to recommend Rust Is A Form Of Fire to anyone who enjoys contemporary poetry, impressions of travel or the ever popular pastime of people-watching. Especially to the people-watchers!


Etsy Find!
by Station Toronto in
Toronto, Canada

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Books by Joe Fiorito / Biography and memoir / Books from Canada

6 comments:

  1. Even though it's not my kind of book, it does sound interesting.

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    1. I had no idea what to expect, but loved the idea and the style

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  2. Hmm, it doesn't actually sound like this is going to be a kind of book that I would like because it seems so experimental and not like anything I usually read? But I am glad you were able to enjoy it ^.^

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    1. It's actually a lot more accessible than it sounds :-)

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  3. Doesn't sound like my sort of thing, but kudos to the author for originality!

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    1. I have a kind of hit and miss track record on experimental writing, but this was one of my hits

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