From the bestselling author of The Saturday Night Ghost Club and Canada Reads-finalist Precious Cargo comes this supremely satisfying collection of stories.
Set in in the Niagara Falls of Davidson's imagination known as "Cataract City," the superb stories of Cascade shine a shimmering light on this slightly seedy, slightly magical, slightly haunted place. The six gems in this collection each illuminate familial relationships in a singular way: A mother and her infant son fight to survive a car-crash in a remote wintry landscape outside of town. Fraternal twins at a juvenile detention center reach a dangerous crisis point in their entwined lives. A pregnant social worker grapples with the prospect of parenthood as a custody case takes a dire turn. A hard-boiled ex-firefighter goes after a serial arsonist with a flair for the theatrical even as his own troubled sister is drawn towards the flames. These are just some of the unforgettable characters animating this stellar collection of tales—Davidson's first in 15 years, since Rust and Bone, which inspired a Golden Globe-nominated film.
As always, I owe a great debt of inspiration to the world around me as I wrote these stories over the past 15 or so years. In them you can find my own personal history as a father, husband, and now-middle-aged man, with the abiding fixations of that age. It is also interesting to see how my own factual history entwined with the characters in these stories. The steroidal journey of Jasper Railsback, the main character in Medium Tough, is very much influenced by my own (youthful, idiotic) foray into those substances, as written about in a longago magazine article. The fact that many of these stories deal with children or the fears and joys of parenthood is owed to the intensity of fatherhood. Of course, my adopted hometown of Niagara Falls is a huge influence and is where I derived the collection's title. And what of Zev, the talented ballplayer in One Pure Thing? Was Kawhi Leonard's "Shot" the basis for the end of that story? An acknowledged debt of influence goes to the late, great Thom Jones—who was gracious enough many many years ago to provide a blurb for Rust and Bone and who I was fortunate to enter into a protracted and intense email back-and-forth with over the course of several months. I also owe a debt to the short story writers I read at a younger age, like Stephen King (the eternal influence, whether I like it or not) and Clive Barker, and those I read in university and later such as Alice Munro, Barry Hannah, Mark Jarman, Stephen Dobyns, Cheever, Carver, Updike, Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, Mavis Gallant, so many many others.