Books·My Life in Books

3 books that are meaningful to Canada Reads finalist Craig Davidson

The author of Precious Cargo shares the books that made an impact on him as child.
Craig Davidson is a finalist on Canada Reads 2018 for his autobiography Precious Cargo. (Peter Power/CBC)

Craig Davidson has a colourful resume. He's written literary fiction, and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2013 for his novel Cataract City. He writes horror, under the pseudonym Nick Cutter. His journalism has been published in places like the National Post, GQ and the Washington Post. He's even been a bus driver. That experience was the inspiration behind the memoir Precious Cargo, which is being defended by Greg Johnson on Canada Reads 2018.

Below, Davidson shares three books that influenced him as a child.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Wilson Rawls was an American author and motivational speaker. (Delacorte Books for Young Readers)

"This was probably the first book that actually provoked an emotional response out of me. When those dogs passed away, it felt very resonant. It felt like me at that age. If I had those two hounds, I clearly would have felt the same way. Wilson did a great job of accessing that child-like state. I think the reason that it's become a classic is because it's often taught in schools. It teaches younger readers how to grapple with loss, with death and how that transpires on the page."

It by Stephen King

It, a horror novel released in 1986, was by Stephen King. (Amy Guip/Viking Press)

"It captured childhood so well. Stephen King captured the fundamental yearnings, feelings, fears and aspirations of that age group. He was able to go back to a child-like state of mind and capture, so pointedly, the thought patterns of a child. That was hugely resonant for me. My secondary sideline as a writer is writing horror under a pen name, so Stephen King has been influential on that level as well. I was a child who loved horror in books, in movies, in anything I could lay my hands on. There's no writer in my life that has been more meaningful to me than him."

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

The novel Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood was released in 1988. (Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Canadian Press;McClelland & Stewart)

"What Atwood does in Cat's Eye that I found meaningful and memorable is the way that memory can kind of be tricky as you age. You remember events from your childhood in a way that seems plausible to you, but in the back of your head, you know that's not the way it could have possibly happened. Your brain has done a weird trick to prevent you from remembering things that maybe you don't want to remember, or it's putting a gloss on certain events, so they fit within the framework of the person that you want to be now. I love that idea."

Craig Davidson's comments have been edited and condensed.


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