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Sarah Court

af Craig Davidson

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642415,281 (3.36)3
Sarah Court. Meet the resident. 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. Ask yourself: How well do you know your neighbours? How well do you know your own family? Ultimately, how well do you know yourself? How deeply do the threads of your own life entwine with those around you? Do you ever really know how tightly those threads are knotted? Do you want to know? I know, and can show you. Please, let me show you. Welcome to Sarah Court: make yourself at home.… (mere)
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A whole bunch of unpleasant people having unpleasant experiences at one another. I can't say I understood the point. ( )
  jen.e.moore | May 9, 2015 |
Through every tale, there are hints of unnamable corruption, usually in the guise of animals or elements of the corporeal body, reminding me of nothing so much as filmmaker David Lynch and his genius at creating unclassifiable dread. Red spider mites teem in a deer’s eyes, “so many as to give the impression it’s weeping blood.” A can of paint has “the hue of diseased organ meat.” Squirrels abound in Sarah Court, somehow playful yet harbingers of some interior evil a la the sinister owls in Lynch’s Twin Peaks. “The owls are not what they seem.” And in several tales there is the presence of a perplexing transparent box holding “a squirming mass the size of a medicine ball.”

While Davidson wreaks some sinister havoc on his characters, there is a grounding in reality that keeps Sarah Court from becoming weird for weird’s sake. There is an outlying supernatural element, but Davidson’s horror is far more the horror of character, of people causing unconscious destruction through their own ill-conceived desires. No resident of Sarah Court gets off unscathed; there are emotional cripplings, physical disfigurements, and mental implosions. There is also good, a desire to rise above the fray, making the climax of each story almost overpowering in each person’s sad realizations of their weaknesses.

Read the rest of the review here. ( )
  ShelfMonkey | Apr 17, 2011 |
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Craig Davidson's fourth book, Sarah Court, is published by Toronto's ChiZine Publications, an independent publisher of “surreal, subtle, disturbing dark fiction.” The novel is being marketed as Dark Literary Fiction/Science Fiction, but even though a strange alien/demon life is being grown in a magician's box throughout the novel, you can easily read this book as any genre.

In fact, don't even read it as a novel if you want. Read it as a connected collection of stories instead. Sarah Court subverts all expectation and plows through labels. It's an endlessly interesting experiment – it is both literary and Gothic, it is both story and novel, and the writing is equally fragmented and fluid.
 
Davidson’s characters are all wrecked. A great many of them suffer brain damage from oxygen deprivation, which is symbolic of how they’ve lived: bullied, manipulated, made vulnerable by unrealistic physical goals, wedged into lives shaped by others’ expectations, and given no room to breathe. Davidson refuses to hold the reader’s hand through any of the often heartbreaking consequences, making Sarah Court, for all its emphasis on the physical and the grotesque, a book of devastating emotional power. ­
 
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Sarah Court. Meet the resident. 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. Ask yourself: How well do you know your neighbours? How well do you know your own family? Ultimately, how well do you know yourself? How deeply do the threads of your own life entwine with those around you? Do you ever really know how tightly those threads are knotted? Do you want to know? I know, and can show you. Please, let me show you. Welcome to Sarah Court: make yourself at home.

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