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The Saturday Night Ghost Club: 02/11/20

The Saturday Night Ghost Club

The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson started as a medical thesis and morphed into a novel about a boy taken on a series of ghost hunts with his uncle. What remains of the original thesis are introductory stories in each chapter about brain surgery patients.

It's the 1980s in Niagara Falls. Jake Baker is spending most of his free time with his Uncle Calvin. Calvin runs an occult shop and has tale after tale about the ghosts who haunt the city and its surrounds. He wants to show Jake this other side of the city.

Ultimately through these adventures, Jake comes to learn his uncle's tragic past. There's a reason he's so spacey and such a firm believer in the occult. The revelation of those reasons is couched in the building blocks of the road narrative spectrum.

There are actually two road narratives in this novel but they sit in the spot on the spectrum. To avoid spoilers, I will only look at Jake and Calvin's journey.

Jake and Calvin are family travelers (33). They adventure together, though with Calvin in the metaphorical and sometimes literal driver's seat.

Their adventures primarily take them to abandoned buildings or places outside of town. Two key places that together count as the wildlands (99) are the river area under the bridge where a car remains submerged and the foundation of a burned out house on a hill, far out of town.

The route to their destination — these wildlands — is through the cornfield (FF). This novel being Canadian, goes with the tkaronto or "place where trees stand in water" imagery, rather than the overgrown croplands that are more common in U.S. road narrative imagery.

All together, Jake and Calvin's ghost hunting adventures are framed as a family traveling to the wildlands via the cornfield (3399FF). Despite the inclusion of a potentially magical route, the type of traveler and the destination keep this novel grounded in realistic fiction.

Five stars

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