Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sarah Court, by Craig Davidson

**Spoiler Alerts – Two spoiler alerts: 1- Don’t read this book, it sucked. 2- I reveal something about the ending in my review…. So, if you’re planning on reading this one, skip my review and come back to it later.**

I knew my last read was going to be trouble before I got past the preface.  Sarah Court, by Craig Davidson, was a convoluted mixed bag from the word go, and the only reason I finished it was because I had nothing better going on that afternoon.  But let’s back up and dissect where things went wrong…

Sarah Court tells the story of five families and their neighbours in a small town in Southern Ontario, downriver from Niagara Falls.  Each chapter is dedicated to a particular family/person’s story, but all are interwoven with each other.  

The problems began right ways, however, with the way in which the story unfolded.  To start off with, the preface is told from the point of view of a non-human species.  The reflections on the human condition observable amongst the community’s residents are trite and over-blown.  More annoying, is the author’s over use of turns of phrases such as “It’s the type of town/place/community where…” at the opening of every paragraph for what seems like the entire chapter.  After the preface, and we start in on the stories of the five families, I almost thought the preface’s narrator was a squirrel (don’t ask…) but, as revealed in the last chapter, it’s rather some sort of daemon/alien?  I don’t know – that twist came out of the blue and was a really shitty addition to a series of story lines that I had started (marginally) enjoying about three-quarters of the way through.

The actual meat of the book, the five families that are covered, are hit and miss.  The first two chapters are slow and boring in contrast to the last three, which become more interesting and titillating as you read.  To complicate the whole matter, each chapter jumps back and forth between time frames, so they can turn into something of a convoluted mess.

The characters (some of them at least) had potential, but the author never gave himself enough space or time to develop many of them.  The chapters that I enjoyed most were the ones where the characters were fleshed out, and interacted with the plot in a more meaningful way, but overall these successes don’t make up for the deficiencies.  

So, final verdict?  Don’t bother.  I love being able to support Canadian authors, but Sarah Court is a serious misstep in the Canadian literary field.  It’s not my cup of tea, but I’d love to hear from those who have read it an enjoyed it – maybe you can point out what I’ve missed?  

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