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Interlinking stories spill into each other. One of the best books of 2010.
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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. Crops harvested by itinerant Caribbean field hands who ride bicycles bundled in toques and fingerless gloves even in summertime. A town unfurling along Lake Ontario. Once so polluted, salmon developed pearlescent lesions on their skin. Ducks, pustules on their webbed feet. They seizured from contagions in their blood. Children were limited to swimming in ten-minute increments."
Immediately we get a sense of this bedraggled community, not devoid of hope, or aspiration, but knocked down a few times, perhaps a bit skittish, gun-shy, sticking out their hands to shake, but expecting to get bit nonetheless.
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Posted December 5, 2011
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