Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Finished: "Sarah Court" by Craig Davidson

Finished: Sarah Court by Craig Davidson, 2010, 9781926851006.

I completely missed the release of this. I did not know about the book until this past June. I was wondering if Davidson was ever going to have a new book out and he already had. Davidson does good work. For a Canadian.

A novel composed of five short stories centered on the current and past residents of Sarah Court in a Southern Ontario town just north of Niagara Falls. The squirrel narrator of the prologue describes the town as a place, "Whose denizens have been collectively referred to by graceless out-of-towners as resembling 'your standard roller derby audience.'"

Davidson's currency is low-rent people interacting with a few people of wealth. None - or very few - of his characters are upstanding. Or standing. Or sober. There are a number of running themes in the book. To pick one topic I say: bad parenting and the recovering children. Two fathers on the Court are drunks and a foster mother is a bipolar nutjob.

The story of most interest to me followed former boxer Nick Saberhagen. Nick's father is an alcoholic surgeon - currently facing license revocation - and Nick is recently separated from his wife. Nick's son Dylan is a chubby middle schooler suffering bullying in school and online. Nick was pushed into boxing by his father and went pro when only sixteen-years-old. Nick is struggling to deal with his beautiful wife who left him, Nick's issues with his father, worry over his kid, a job requiring frequent and unannounced travel, so on, so forth.

Here is another interconnecting them: weirdness. A mysterious glass box with "something" alive inside. A drunken lout with a fighting pitbull. A Sarah Court gal pushed into power lifting by her father. An autistic hitman. Dylan who pretends to be a vampire. A daredevil who has fallen on hard times and wants to take Niagara Falls in a barrel. American Express Black Card holders with bizarre purchases.

1. Literary stories? Yes, but in a good way.
2. Is it right to make fun of Canadians? At times.
3. Doesn't Davidson have his own recurring motifs? Yes.
3.a. Boxing (poorly done by characters)
3.b. Dog fighting
3.c. Depressing Ontario mill-towns.
3.d. Alcohol, prescription and illegal drug abuse.
4. Didn't Davidson shoot himself full of steroids he ordered from overseas? Yes.
5. Didn't Davidson engage in a boxing much to promote his last book about a boxer? Yes.
6. Didn't Davidson lose the bout? I do not recall.
EDIT 7. Davidson's observations of character motivation are always perceptive. Especially when the characters are dealing with failure or disappointment.

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