The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a coming-of-age story for the ages

The Saturday Night Ghost ClubThe Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Available August 14th

Like the derelict buildings that were never torn down, the abandoned shopping carts that rusted away to atoms, and all the other monuments to the city’s general apathy, the car in the oxbow had become an accepted part of the scenery. ~The Saturday Night Ghost Club

I’m calling it right here and right now – Craig Davidson’s new novel is destined to become a coming-of-age classic with the emotional heft and weight of To Kill A Mockingbird and Dandelion Wine. Ever since Cataract City, Davidson has proven his capacity to write from the point of view of children during that pivotal final season before innocence is lost and childish things are put away. There is a realism that’s laced with grit and heartache even as the sharp edges are softened by the dual lenses of nostalgia and selective memory. This is King’s best writing when he’s writing about the same thing — The Body and The Losers’ Club. And this is definitely one book you won’t want to miss – so add it to your reading list right now.

hi-davidson-craig-cataract-city-kevin-kelly-random-house

Craig Davidson, Cataract City

My first introduction to Jake’s eccentric Uncle Calvin – or Uncle C for short – immediately made me think of Gary Busey playing goofy, egregiously irresponsible Uncle Red in the movie Silver Bullet (and here’s where I am going to put in a plug for the podcast We Hate Movies because their Silver Bullet episode is one of the funniest goddamn things I’ve ever listened to in my entire life). But my intent using this comparison isn’t to turn you off Davidson’s Uncle C or make him the butt of a bad joke – while he has many of the traits that make Busey’s character so memorable and so easy to make fun of, Uncle C is more than just the archetype of everyone’s “fun uncle” – he is written with so much sensitivity and hidden depths you won’t see the tsunami of feels bearing down on you ready to drown you and leave you gasping for oxygen until it’s too late.

Like any coming-of-age story worth its weight, this one has teeth and will take a bite out of you. It lingers on the bittersweet pain of first love, fitting in and finding your tribe, and the inexplicable and confusing terrors lurking in the dark corners of the world of grown-ups. It is a meditation on memory, how we form memories, shape them, and re-shape them. How the human need to make sense of our lives never stops, never leaves us, the one constant we take right to the grave.

The writing is also guh! gorgeous and like Brandon I want to quote the entire book to you. But I think that’s usually frowned upon – doubly so for an ARC. Seriously though, passages like this had me swooning and reading the words aloud:

 

The quality of light in our part of the world was such that, just before night fell, the horizon lit up with an almost otherworldly glow. I never discovered why that was…probably the final rays of sunlight reflecting off the river basin caused this fleeting incandescence. But as a kid I thought it must be because of the sun itself—that unfeeling ball of gas—didn’t want to leave, and so it lingered, clawing up the ragged hub of the earth in order to shed the last of its light over us.”

And this:

Imagine trying to hold the tail of a comet as it blazes across the heavens. It’s burning your hands, eating you up, but there’s no malice in it; a comet can’t possibly know or care about you. You will sacrifice all you are or ever will be for that comet because it suffuses every inch of your skin with a sweet itch you cannot scratch, and through its grace you discover velocities you never dreamt possible.

The last time writing this good had me feeling this way was The Summer that Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel. Read that book, and most definitely read The Saturday Night Ghost Club.

Check out my goodreads review for Davidson’s Cataract City here.

Review copy received through Netgalley.

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