Author Craig Davidson had been having trouble making ends meet when he took a chance on a job posting for a school bus driver for special needs kids. Originally written as a piece for Avenue magazine, Craig expanded his experience into a full length memoir. Davidson rounds out the book by adding in struggles he faced early in his writing career, as well as snippets from an unpublished novel, The Seekers.
When I attended one of Davidson’s readings last year in Halifax, he read from a yet unpublished work, a work that would become Precious Cargo. It’s no secret I’m a big Davidson (or his pseudonym Nick Cutter) fan. While it sounded interesting, I was worried it would read like a fluff piece. Releasing this book seemed like an odd choice considering the direction he’d recently taken in his career by producing stomach-churning horror novels. It almost felt like he needed to write something heart-warming to prove he isn’t a complete psychopath.
Precious Cargo is indeed that heart-warming story, but it feels very genuine. I laughed out loud along with Davidson and his rag-tag crew of students as they made their way through the school year. The book never feels exploitative, you really feel that Davidson considered the kids his friends and the laughs and lessons he learned along the way were legitimate.
This typically isn’t the type of book I would pick up if it hadn’t had Craig Davidson’s name on the cover. Nothing against the subject matter – I’m more of a true crime/crime fiction kind of guy – but it generally isn’t the genre that attracts me. However, I’m glad I did read it. It’s weird labelling a book about a depressed, desperate writer driving a short bus filled with handicapped children a “fun read”, but that’s what I came away with.