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Sarah Court Paperback – September 30, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Davidson (The Fighter) delivers a dark, dense, and often funny collection of intertwined tales that are rewarding enough to overcome their flaws. The five families in the squirrel-infested homes on the titular street are made up of broken and dysfunctional characters. Patience shoplifts for a hobby; daredevil Colin has no sense of fear; hit man Jeffrey was raised in a foster home and might have Asperger's, synesthesia, or some entirely different neurological weirdness; Nick still rankles from the years his father forced him to try his hand at boxing; and Donald is trying to sell a strange box that he says contains a demon. Davidson delivers his story at a leisurely pace with only a hint of gonzo gore, aiming for readers who appreciate nonlinear narrative structure, flawed characters often unsure of their own motivations, and an evocative sense of place.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Lives of the people who live in five houses in one block on Sarah Court, just north of Niagara Falls, intertwine in these five chapters of tightly packed prose. River man Wesley Hill, who picks up the “plungers,” can’t dissuade his daredevil son, Colin, from going over the falls. Patience Nanavatti, whose basement was blown up by Clara Russell’s pyromaniac foster child, finds a preemie in a Walmart toilet. Competitive neighbors Fletcher Burger and Frank Saberhagen pit their children, pending power-lifter Abby Burger and amateur boxer Nick Saberhagen, against each other athletically. And there’s much more, as Davidson loops back and forth, playing with chronology to finish stories. There is a strong emphasis on fatherhood here, with wives and mothers largely absent, and the masculine bent is particularly obvious in a stupid bet—a finger for a Cadillac—over a dog’s trick. Given that a handful of characters suffer significant brain damage, caused as often by intent as by accident, the introduction of a mysterious alien being seems superfluous. In Davidson’s vividly portrayed, testosterone-fueled world, humans cause enough pain all by themselves. --Michele Leber
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • Publisher: ChiZine Publications; First edition (September 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1926851005
  • ISBN-13: 978-1926851006
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Thomas on March 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
This review was originally published at The Nervous Breakdown.

Heartbreaking stories grounded in a fractured reality, love and the strange things it makes us do, neighbors and the heavy weight of proximity, this is Sarah Court. A collection of connected, interlinking narratives, Sarah Court (ChiZine Publications) by Craig Davidson is set in a circle of houses, each neighbor with their own story to tell. Reminiscent of Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock, but set in the area around Niagara Falls, we get to see from several different perspectives how things unfold when there is death next door, the trickle down of sweat and violence from one family to the next, the way that love and lust intertwine young passions, families infecting each other. The residents:

"The haunted father of a washed-up stuntman. A disgraced surgeon and his son, a broken-down boxer. A father set on permanent self-destruct, and his daughter, a reluctant powerlifter. A fireworks-maker and his daughter. A very peculiar boy and his equally peculiar adopted family.

Five houses. Five families. One block."

And that's not everyone. I've left out Mama and Sunshine and Matilda the pitbull, but it's certainly a start.

And what about that block, Sarah Court, what kind of place is this that holds in its cupped hands lonely lives filled with divorce and crushed dreams, failure riding on the backs of their pet squirrels that dart around their homes? This is where they live:

"Sarah Court: a ring of homes erected by the Mountainview Holdings Corporation. Cookie-cutter houses put up quick. Residents digging gardens will encounter broken bricks and wiring bales haphazardly strewn and covered with sod. In a town twenty minutes north of Niagara Falls. Grape and wine country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wag The Fox on February 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
Sometimes, you may find yourself wondering about the secret lives of your neighbors. If you live on Sarah Court, those secrets are better left unsaid. Curiosity killed the cat--or squirrel--after all. For readers, safe and sound in our easy chairs, we can look on with a prurient disgust at the decaying lives of Sarah Court's residents. It's not a cheerful exploration. There are moments of dark humor, but overall this is a very bleak glimpse at a fictionalized segment of St. Catherine's, Ontario.

There's a kind of suburban Pulp Fiction quality to this book, as the story is told in five different sections through the eyes of five residents, all at one time or another living on that little street. The houses are identical on the outside, cheaply made and cheaply lived in. The slow torments and sudden rendering of each household is unique to each of those five houses, though.

Reading this book, Sarah Court slowly revealed itself as a spider's web. Otherwise separate threads all intersecting one another at different points, few if any leading to a happy ending. And while each family's story stands alone and tell its own story, it's those minute intersecting moments that allude to some grander story. Well, maybe "grander" isn't the right word, since "grand" gives the sense of something majestic. There's a huge, quiet tragedy happening occurring--one devastated life at a time.

The imagery is something that sticks with you, particularly the bursts of violence that befall some of the characters. Dylan Saberhagen's story is the one that sticks with me the most. An eleven-year-old boy with a weight problem and a boundless curiosity and imagination that earns him more bullying and ridicule than any one kid should be forced to endure.
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Format: Paperback
Take a look around your subdivision, or neighborhood, or black. Peel back the roof and look inside the lives of five random families. Not the outside personas, the faces put on for the public; but, the real heartbreak and grit of churning out a life. We all like to think we are unique and independent but do we really know how much we rely on those around us, in healthy or unhealthy ways? Are our secrets really a secret from those who know exactly when we take our trash out and our papers in?
This is the story of five neighbors in a small town in Canada and how the threads of their lives are connected. Those threads are not like a smooth running seam in a beautifully wrought blanket, but a messy and dirty knot that takes time and care to unravel on a pair of old and smelly sneakers, the ones we love even though they are past usefulness and are even beginning to smell a little.
There is Abby, a power lifter pushed past endurance by her father; Patience, a collector who adds a real life baby from Walmart; Collin, a daredevil who flings himself over Niagara Falls; there are demons in boxes a hit man with a soft spot for candy and each one of them is connected in a weird, and mostly bittersweet, way. This is a story of broken people who are relying upon another broken soul to prop up their own spirit.
The book is very funny in a dry and dark way. And, then it is pitiful and then, at times, sweet. It is a roller-coaster of emotions and circumstances and a joy to read from the first to the last. It's one of the books you want to read again and again, just to see what you might have missed the first time.
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