Saturday, September 9, 2023

The Saturday Night Ghost Club and the Nature of Memory

Scott D. Parker

Sometimes the perfect arrives at the best possible time.

I love summer. I love the heat (yeah, really). I love rolling down the windows of my car and blasting loud music (well, I do that all year round...). I love the movies that are associated with summer.
But most of all, I love the looser vibe.

By the end of summer, however, while I may not be ready to shift into an autumnal mindset, it approaches nonetheless. I always take stock of seasons as they end, and I was in that mood during the last week of summer 2023 as I started to listen to Craig Davidson's Saturday Night Ghost Club.

It was a selection in my science fiction book club, but this book is not that. It is a coming-of-age tale in the vein of Stand by Me, It, or any given movie from the 1980s featuring a group of kids who can't yet drive and get around town on bikes. As I always do whenever one of my other three guys pick a book to read, I don't read the description. I just download the audiobook and pushed play.

And it was the perfect book for the end of summer.

Our narrator, Jake Baker, tells the story of the summer when he was twelve. He's got a small group of folks he hangs out with and that includes his odd Uncle Calvin. His uncle is a believer of all things found in the National Enquirer or future episodes of the X-Files. In the small Canadian town just north of the border with New York, Uncle Cal runs an store featuring all sorts of occult trinkets. It's for the tourists, you see.

But Cal also starts to tell Jake and his friends about local legends around town. After forming the club, Cal, Jake, and his friends set out on various evenings to investigate the house that burned down, the car that sank in the river one winter's night, or the graveyard.

The adult Jake is the narrator and he tells the story as it happened…or how he remembered it. The story is a fascinating study about the power of memory and how we shape it as we get older. As I mentioned, even though this book has echoes of every other coming-of-age story, that's fine, because there are common moments we all share as we grow up.

The big twist was one I didn't see coming and it really changed the nature of the a great way.

Davidson's writing style is fantastic, often quite vivid in his descriptions. All four of us in the club loved the book and all commented on Davidson's style. In fact, we all mentioned that this would not be the last Craig Davidson book we read.

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