The Saturday Night Ghost Club: A Novel by Craig DavidsonThe Saturday Night Ghost Club: A Novel by Craig Davidson

The Saturday Night Ghost Club: A Novel

byCraig Davidson

Hardcover | August 14, 2018

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SHORTLISTED FOR THE ROGERS WRITERS' TRUST FICTION PRIZE: An infectious and heartbreaking novel from "one of this country's great kinetic writers" (Globe and Mail)--Craig Davidson's first new literary fiction since his bestselling, Giller-shortlisted Cataract City

When neurosurgeon Jake Baker operates, he knows he's handling more than a patient's delicate brain tissue--he's altering their seat of consciousness, their golden vault of memory. And memory, Jake knows well, can be a tricky thing.

When growing up in 1980s Niagara Falls, a.k.a. Cataract City--a seedy but magical, slightly haunted place--one of Jake's closest confidantes was his uncle Calvin, a sweet but eccentric misfit enamored of occult artefacts and outlandish conspiracy theories. The summer Jake turned twelve, Calvin invited him to join the "Saturday Night Ghost Club"--a seemingly light-hearted project to investigate some of Cataract City's more macabre urban myths. Over the course of that life-altering summer, Jake not only fell in love and began to imagine his future, he slowly, painfully came to realize that his uncle's preoccupation with chilling legends sprang from something buried so deep in his past that Calvin himself was unaware of it.

By turns heartwarming and devastating, written with the skill and cinematic immediacy that has made Craig Davidson a star, The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a bravura performance from one of our most remarkable literary talents: a note-perfect novel that poignantly examines the fragility and resilience of mind, body and human spirit, as well as the haunting mutability of memory and story.
CRAIG DAVIDSON was born and grew up in St. Catharines, Ontario, near Niagara Falls. He has published four previous books of literary fiction: Rust and Bone, which was made into a Golden Globe-nominated feature film of the same name, The Fighter, Sarah Court, and the Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated Cataract City. Davidson is a graduat...
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Title:The Saturday Night Ghost Club: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 8.2 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:August 14, 2018Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0735274827

ISBN - 13:9780735274822

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from A great story This book was a great choice being that Halloween is just around the corner. We read alternating timelines – when Jake was a young boy and a member of The Saturday Night Ghost Club with his friend Billy, his Uncle Cal and his Uncle’s friend, and the present when Jake is a grown man with a family of his own and a professional doctor. It was fun to read about all the adventures of the Saturday Night Ghost Club and read about what they were up to and all of the urban myths they were trying to discover and uncover the truth about. Their club took them on many ghost hunts and truth seeking adventures, and it was fun to read about all of their findings. It was refreshing to read the story from Jake’s point of view as a young pre-teen and see the world through his eyes. He was a fun character to read and learn about, and to watch him grow and see his personality come through on a daily basis. His Uncle Cal was quite the interesting character. He seemed like the fun Uncle that everyone wishes they had in their lives. He was spunky, had a sense of adventure, like to hunt for ghosts and believed in all kinds of weird paranormal stuff. He was young at heart and up for adventure. It was interesting to read along and find out that Cal had secrets of his own, secrets that he himself wasn’t even aware of. That was certainly a twist in the book that I enjoyed and didn’t see coming. Overall the book was an interesting read and I enjoyed the refreshing take on urban myths and the idea of the Saturday Night Ghost Club.
Date published: 2018-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved it I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this book. Would it be creepy? Maybe nostalgic? Or would it be more of an emotional tale? It turns out it is all three. Jake is 12, out of school for the summer and spending his days exploring the urban decay of Niagara Falls. His uncle Calvin is fun to be around - he believes in all things paranormal. So when Calvin suggests starting up a Saturday night ghost club, Jake is all for it. But it doesn’t go as planned. With each visit to the various creepy corners in town, Jake starts to see that there is something more to his uncle’s ghost stories - something deeper that has left hidden emotional scars on their family. This is one of those books where you can tell really early on that it’s going to be a story that lingers with you. There is a grittiness to it that made Calvin’s degeneration feel even more raw and real. And it really makes you think about memory, how it makes you unique, and the terror behind the possibility of losing it. The Saturday Night Ghost Club straddles the line between scary and sad - and it’s actually quite a touching book as well. It’s a fine balance, and Davidson pulls it off nicely.
Date published: 2018-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it. Thoroughly enjoyed this story-so many facets. It flows so well ,and draws you into this fictional he has created.
Date published: 2018-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoroughly enjoyable! 5+ stars! Thoroughly enjoyable. I almost devoured it all in one sitting but made myself spread it out over three so I could savour it even longer.
Date published: 2018-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! I picked up Craig Davidson's new novel, The Saturday Night Ghost Club on a lazy Sunday morning and literally couldn't put it down until the last page was turned. Yup, that addicting. Our protagonist is Jake Baker - we meet him as the adult neurosurgeon he is today and the young boy he was, living in Cataract City (aka Niagara Falls, Canada. In Latin, cataracta means waterfall), circa 1980. Jake is that odd kid out - overweight, shy with no real friends. He hangs out with his Uncle Cal, who owns the Occultorium on the tourist lined streets of the Falls. Cal believes in the otherworld, ghosts, conspiracy theories and more. When Billy Yellowbird moves into town, Jake has finally found a friend. And Cal has two members for his proposed Saturday Night Ghost Club. "This city is haunted by ghosts. Uncle C used to say this, though not to scare me. He'd say it with a cocked eyebrow and an inscrutable smile, a merry jester beckoning me to embark on a grand adventure." I could vividly picture the setting, having visited the Falls many times. The busy, congested, neon party that is Clifton Hill sprang to life. Davidson takes us behind those streets to the lives of the permanent residents of Cataract City. I appreciated the cultural references woven throughout the book....."We did what Canadian kids do on unbearably hot summer days: watched reruns of The Beachcombers and Danger Bay on the CBC..." Initially there's a 'Stranger Things' feel to The Saturday Night Ghost Club - exploring the haunted landmarks and sites of the Falls. That's the setting, but the story is much more than that. Friendship, love, family, coming of age - and memory. "The brain is the seat of memory, and memory is a tricky thing." Davidson is a one heck of a storyteller. His prose flow so easily and draw the reader into the world he's created. His characters leap to life and will break your heart. Those last fifty pages? So very, very good. And once you've turned that last page, head back to that first chapter again. You'll look at it with different eyes. An absolutely wonderful read.
Date published: 2018-08-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from “The Saturday Night Ghost Club” is going to be one of my favourite reads of 2018 I never read anything by this author, and I was interested in exploring more of Canadian literature. I rarely pick up books the moment I receive them, but something about “The Saturday Night Ghost Club” pulled me to it. I went into the book almost blind, knowing only that it was set in the 80s, in Niagara Falls Ontario, and that the author was Canadian. I remember reading the first page of “The Saturday Night Ghost Club”, and then another one, and another one. Twenty pages into the book and I already knew that I was going to love it. Fifty pages in - I knew that I was going to give this book a high rating. Halfway into the book - I was requesting more books by Craig Davidson from the library. “The Saturday Night Ghost Club” is a literary novel, but it blends scientific facts with memoir like reminiscences of the main protagonist’s, Jake, in such an effortless way, that at times, I had to remind myself that there is no real neurosurgeon by the name of Jake Breaker working at St. Michael’s Hospital, right across the street from me. Craig Davidson’s writing feels effortless, lightweight, even when he talks about haunting memories, prescription pills, and brain tumours. “The Saturday Night Ghost Club”, however, is not all about science. It is, in fact, a heartfelt and nostalgic recounter of childhood memories. Jake, the neurosurgeon, exists in the periphery of the book, popping in only to make a reference to something that would make sense only at the very end of the book. Most of the time, it is Jake, the twelve-year-old boy, who is the main protagonist of the story. Even though I love literary fiction, I often struggle with contemporary or historical fiction, when I feel that I have no connection with places or events. With “The Saturday Night Ghost Club” I had no problems fully emerging myself into the story. Every location and every memory felt tangible, covered in cobwebs and dust, but still vivid. I loved everything about the story and the plot. I did, however, guess where it was heading when I was about one third into the book, but it did not diminish the pleasure of reading it. There is something to be said about small towns that manage to both to make you nostalgic and send a chill down your spine. There were, definitely, moments in “The Saturday Night Ghost Club” when I felt disturbed by the turn of events, but mostly it was a rather fun read. I can’t say whom I liked more in “The Saturday Night Ghost Club”. I loved Jack; I liked his friend Billy, his sister Dove; I liked his uncle Cal. I even liked that video store owner Lex. I did not like him at first, but later he grew on me. There are a lot of relationships in this book that seem easy at the first glimpse, but as the plot develops, you learn that everyone carries secrets, sometimes not even their own. The ending of “The Saturday Night Ghost Club” was exactly like I expected it to be: heartfelt, bittersweet, and very real. I wish it could have been less real so that I could pretend that it is a happy ending. In a way, it was a happy ending. But at the same time, it was not. What made it so heartbreaking for me was not even what actually happened, but how everyone came together to deal with it. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. “The Saturday Night Ghost Club” is a masterfully crafted novel with enough twists and thrown in scientific facts about brains to keep you on your toes till the very last page. I can not wait to read more works by Craig Davidson. “The Saturday Night Ghost Club” is going to be one of my favourite reads of 2018. ***I requested “The Saturday Night Ghost Club” for review from Penguin Random House Canada. ***
Date published: 2018-08-14

Read from the Book

As a boy, I believed in monsters. I was convinced that if I said “Bloody Mary” in front of a mirror, a hideous witch-woman would reach through the glass with nails sharp as splinters. I considered it a fact that the Devil lingered at shad­owy crossroads and went to dance halls in disguise, where he’d ask the prettiest girl to dance and reel her across the floor while spectators stood terror-stricken at the sight of the Devil’s goatish shanks, until the girl fainted dead away and the Unclean One vanished in a puff of brimstone. There was no falsehood I wouldn’t swallow, no quilt of lies you couldn’t drape over my all-too-gullible shoulders. But for a boy like me—chubby, freckled, awkward; growing up in a city where the erection of a new Kmart occasioned our mayor to announce, “This marks a wondrous new chapter in our town’s history”—imagination was my greatest asset. Not to mention my defence against a foe worse than the most fearsome monster: loneliness. My ally against that foe was my uncle Calvin. If I told him there was a bottomless pit in my basement, he’d say, “Tell me, Jake, is the air denser around the mouth of the pit than in other areas of the basement?” Cocking an eyebrow: “Do ominous growling sounds emanate from this pit of yours?” Uncle C was the ideal nursemaid for my paranoid fantasies. His knowledge of urban legends and folk­lore was encyclopedic—with the added bonus that he seemed to consider most of it true. “Hey,” he’d say, “did you know there are crocodiles living in the sewers of our fair city? The poor suckers get smuggled up from Florida by dumb tourists. Sure, they’re cute as a bug’s ear when they’re six inches long. But when they grow up and get nippy? Ba-whooosh, down the porcelain mistake eraser. They get fat ’n’ sassy down there in the pipes, where there’s plenty to eat if you’re not choosy. Every year a couple of sanita­tion department workers get gobbled up by sewer crocs. The press bottles it up, unscrupulous snakes that they are, but it’s a fact you can set your watch to.” Uncle C would fiddle with the beads of his brace­let—each an ornate pewter Cthulhu head, mouths and eye sockets sprouting tentacles—and offer a wistful sigh. “And that, Jake, is why owning a pet is a big responsibility.” Once, when I was six or seven, I became convinced a monster lived in my closet. I told my dad, who did what 99 percent of adults do when their child makes this claim: he flung my closet door open, rattled coat hangers and shoved shoeboxes aside, making a Broadway production of it. “See? No monsters, Jake.” But monsters make themselves scarce when adults are around, only to slither back after dark. Every kid knew this to be an unshakable fact. Uncle C arrived for dinner that night, as usual— Mom invited him every Sunday. He got an inkling of my worry as I sat picking at my Salisbury steak. “What’s the matter, hombre?” “We have an unwanted visitor in a closet, appar­ently,” Mom informed him.“But we’ve established that there’s no monster,” my father said. “Right, buddy?” “Ah,” said Uncle C. “I have some expertise in this area. Sam, with your permission?” Mom turned to my father and said, “Sam,” in the tone of voice you’d use to calm a jittery horse. “Of course, Cal, as you like,” my father said. My uncle pedalled home to his house, returning ten minutes later with a tool box. Once we were in my bed­room he motioned to the closet. “I take it this is its lair?” I nodded. “Closets are a favourite haunt of monsters,” my uncle explained. “Most are harmless, even good-tempered, if they have enough dust bunnies and cob­webs to eat. Do you clean your closet?” I assured him that it was hardly ever tidied unless my mother forced the chore on me. “Good, let them feast. If they get too hungry they’ll crawl over to your clothes hamper and eat holes in your underwear. No need to check the seat of your drawers for confirmation, as I can see by your expres­sion that yours have indeed met this cruel fate.” Calvin cracked the tool box and pulled out an instru­ment—one that today I’d recognize as a stud finder. “It’s a monster tracer,” he said, running it over the closet walls, making exploratory taps with his knuckles. “There are token traces of ectoplasm,” he said in the voice of a veteran contractor. “Monster slime, in layman’s terms. What does this monster look like?” “Hairy in some parts, slimy in others.” “What’s its shape? Like a snake, or a blob?” “A blob. But it can stretch, too, so it can look like a snake if it wants.” “We’re dealing with a hairy, slimy blob with uncanny stretching capacities.” He gripped his chin. “Sounds like a Slurper Slug. They’re common around these parts.” “A slug?” “Correct, but we’re not talking your garden-variety slug.” He laughed—actually, he exclaimed ha-ha. “A little paranormal humour for you, Jake my boy. These peculiar and particularly gross slugs infest closets and crawl spaces. You haven’t been keeping anything tasty in your closet, have you?” “That’s where I put my Halloween candy.” “Slurper Slug, then, guaranteed. They’re not dan­gerous, just revolting. They could make a mortician barf his biscuits. If you let one hang around he’ll call his buddies and before long you’ve got an infestation on your hands.” He rooted through his tool box for a pouch of fine red powder. “This is cochineal, made from the crushed shells of beetles. It’s used in containment spells.” He laid down a line of powder in the shape of a keyhole  “This,” he said, pointing to the circle, “is the trap. The Slurper Slug will traipse up this path, see, which gets narrower and narrower until the Slug gets stuck in the Circle of No Return. There it will turn black as night and hard as rock. Now, you’ll have to pull one hair out of your head to bait the slug trap.” I plucked a single strand, which my uncle laid softly in the trap. “Go ask your mom if she has any chocolate chips.” I went down to the kitchen to find my folks engaged in a hushed conversation. My father’s shoulders were vibrating like twin tuning forks. “Chocolate chips, huh?” Mom said in a Susie- Cheerleader voice. “I’ve only got butterscotch.” By the time I got back, the closet was shut. My uncle instructed me to lay a trail of butterscotch chips along the door. “The sweetness will draw that Slug out of hiding. Now listen, Jake, and listen carefully. If you peek inside the closet, the spell will be broken. Under no circumstances can it be opened until tomorrow morn­ing. No matter the sounds you may hear dribbling through this door, you must leave it closed. Do you swear this to me?” “Yes, I promise.” “By the Oath of the White Mage, do you swear it?” When I admitted I didn’t know that oath, he stuck out his little finger. “The pinkie variety will suffice.” I linked my finger with his and squeezed. “Cross your heart and hope to die?” “Stick a needle in my eye,” I said solemnly. I awoke to sunlight streaming through the window. I crept to the closet and opened it. Just as Uncle C had said, the keyhole was now only a circle and in the middle sat an object that was dark as night and hard as rock. My uncle was taking off his boots in the front hall when I stormed downstairs. “The trap worked!” I told him, dragging him up the stairs to show him the blackened slug. “Pick it up,” he said. “It may still be a little warm but it won’t burn you.” Queasy warmth pulsed off the slug, or so it felt to me. “It’s not every day that you can hold a monster in your palm, is it, Jake?” That lump of obsidian would rest on my nightstand for years. Then one day I noticed it sitting between my Junior Sleuths magnifying glass and a dog-eared reissue of Stephen King’s Carrie, the one with the art deco cover. Opening the drawer, I swept the volcanic rock inside, embarrassed that I’d once been fear-struck by anything so infantile as a snot-ball slug in my closet. . . . An hour later I took it out and put it back where it belonged.

Editorial Reviews

SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2018 ROGERS WRITERS' TRUST FICTION PRIZE“Davidson makes beautifully clear how the ghoulish tales we feared when we were young can’t compare to the blood-bathed teeth we eventually encounter as adults. The Saturday Night Ghost Club is a tale for those who like their Stranger Things spiked, Stand By Me charred, and who are battered enough yet still brave enough to revisit that moment when made-up horrors finally come to root in a world beyond invention. A novel that both stabs and breaks your heart.” —Mark Z. Danielewski, bestselling author of House of Leaves “A moving, delightful, thrillingly unexpected coming-of-age story about the irresistible collision of childhood’s dark wonders and adulthood’s haunting mysteries.” —Elan Mastai, author of All Our Wrong Todays“A nostalgia-driven coming-of-age thriller in the vein of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things and golden-age 1980s Stephen King. Davidson writes so convincingly from a twelve-year-old boy’s perspective—vividly capturing those first pangs of love and the torture of being bullied—that it takes the puzzle of unravelling Uncle C’s troubled mind and the scalpel-sharp sections in which adult Jake describes his work as a brain surgeon to remind readers that this is, in fact, a book about the disquieting nature of memory and the stealthy ways the past can haunt someone. For sheer storytelling prowess, and the chops to scare readers screwy with monsters both real and of our own imagining, the label of Canada’s Stephen King . . . belongs to Craig Davidson, claws down.” —Stacey Madden, Quill & Quire   “A coming-of-age novel, marking the time when you realize there’s more going on in life than meets the eye. In Saturday Night, ghost stories are used to explore how resilient we are, how our mind helps us to survive, and how, sometimes, our memories help us take the horrible things that happen to us and weave them into a life that still has hope. It’s an examination, like most good literature is, of how we live our lives.” —Deborah Dundas, Toronto StarPraise for Craig Davidson:“Craig Davidson is one of this country’s great kinetic writers.” —Steven Beattie, The Globe and Mail“Davidson’s remarkable storytelling gifts are several . . . [He] possesses a stealthy capacity for pace and plot exercised in a cinematic array of places . . . Superb, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining. Davidson is a seriously talented writer.” —Noah Richler, National Post   “Davidson balances his headlong plotting with fresh, poetic language . . . bracing and poignant.” —Maclean’s   “I can’t think of another prose stylist out there as visceral and kinetic as Davidson . . . Utterly compelling.” —The Independent