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Sarah Court Paperback – September 15, 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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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 15, 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: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,079,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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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Format: Paperback
I found out about this book in the back of Nick Cutter's The Acolyte. Yes, I know that Nick Cutter is actually Craig Davidson, and yes, I had heard of Davidson before, but my local Barnes & Noble (for whatever selfish reason), doesn't stock and of Davidson's books, and his name was quickly forgotten.

After reading Sarah Court, I have come to the conclusion that Craig Davidson must be one of the world's most underrated authors. The guy's writing skills are freaking fantastic, weaving together words and descriptions that are so apt, and so perfect, so vivid and poignant, that the story continues to stick in your mind, even once you've finished the book.

To say this book is easy reading would be a lie. It's quite difficult in some places. Though this book is somehow thrown into the horror genre, it's not scary in the sense that ghosts and jump scenes abound, but rather, the stories are full of horrible people doing horrible things. And the book itself isn't hard reading, but the tales, all independent, yet still connected in the way that life connects all our lives, are dark and somewhat tough.

And I loved it. Davidson doesn't mince words or try to make the readers feel good. Instead, what he writes is gritty and realistic, much like real life is. I, personally, don't need a positive spin or an attempt to make me feel good. Usually those endeavors fail and make the book come off as fake. Not so with Davidson. And for that, the book was very near perfect.

My only complaint is the hit-or-miss quality of the stories. Don't get me wrong, as whole, all interwoven and tangled together, the stories work and work well. The problem, though, is that some are just a lot stronger than others and some feel a bit more rushed and too open ended. Maybe that was the author's intention, to let us come to our own conclusions, but when Davidson can write such amazing prose, he definitely has the talent to finish what he's started.
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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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