Cascade is a collection of six short stories from author Craig Davidson.
Craig Davidson’s 2014 novel, Cataract City, is not only my favorite novel of his, but one of my favorites in general. When I saw that Craig was going to release a short story collection set in the world of Cataract City (Niagara Falls, ON), I jumped on it.
The collection begins with The Ghost Lights, a visceral story of a couple and their child moments after a gruesome car crash. This one was one of my favorites as Davidson holds nothing back in describing the horror that can unfold following sudden trauma.
From there, we go to One Pure Thing, the only previously published story in the set of six. This one focuses on a pro-basketball player returning to the minor leagues following an incident in the NBA that had sent him to prison. While I really enjoyed the theme and the message behind this one, a lot of the basketball play-by-play was a bit lost on me. I’m not much of a basketball fan, so that might have something to do with it.
The Vanishing Twin was my favorite of the bunch and the one that most felt inspired by Stephen King, whom Davidson had said molded his style from a young age. It takes place in Juvie where brothers Charlie and Henry have an immense bond. Slowly, Henry begins to notice his brother may be a few cards short of a deck.
Friday Night Goon Squad is a peek into the world of social workers and the tough decisions they have to make on a daily basis. This is an ultimately tragic story where the job is examined as a truly thankless career. Emotions run high in this one. One of the moments in this story brought “The Love Canal” to my attention – a neighborhood on the New York side of Niagara Falls built atop a 70-acre toxic landfill.
Medium Tough follows a surgeon with a deformity that leaves one side of his body much smaller than the other. Despite his handicap, he has managed to succeed in a very difficult field. A character from an earlier story shows up in this one connecting the two stories together. There is some great inspirational writing in this one.
The collection ends with Firebugs, a memorable story about two siblings, one a fire investigator and the other a pyromaniac, as a rash of fires grips Cataract City. There are a few memorable passages in this one where Craig describes the fluidity of fire and the way its devilish dance can grip the average person in its beauty and capability for destruction.
Cascade is yet another strong effort from an already acclaimed writer who has more than proven his talent in a multitude of genres.