Surprising and revelatory non-fiction from a talented young writer whose last book, Cataract City, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Trillium Book Prize, and was a Globe Best Book and national bestseller.
With his last novel, Cataract City, Craig Davidson established himself as one of our most talented novelists. But in his early thirties, before writing that novel and before his previous work, Rust and Bone, was made into an Oscar-nominated film, Davidson experienced a period of poverty, apparent failure and despair. In this new work of intimate, riveting and timely non-fiction, based loosely on a National Magazine Award-winning article he published in Avenue Magazine, Davidson tells the story of one year in his life--a year during which he came to a new, mature understanding of his own life and his connection to others. Or, as Davidson would say, he became an adult.
One morning in 2008, desperate and impoverished and living in a one-room basement apartment while trying unsuccessfully to write, Davidson plucked a flyer out of his mailbox that read, "Bus Drivers Wanted." That was the first step towards an unlikely new career: driving a school bus full of special-needs kids for a year. Armed only with a sense of humour akin to that of his charges, a creative approach to the challenge of driving a large, awkward vehicle while corralling a rowdy gang of kids, and surprising but unsentimental reserves of empathy, Davidson takes us along for the ride. He shows us how his evolving relationship with the kids on that bus, each of them struggling physically as well as emotionally and socially, slowly but surely changed his life along with the lives of the "precious cargo" in his care. This is the extraordinary story of that year and those relationships. It is also a moving, important and universal story about how we see and treat people with special needs in our society.
“Craig Davidson’s Precious Cargo [is] an almost singular accomplishment—a work of non-fiction that’s a pleasure to read, despite being about an able-bodied man who decides to hang out with disabled people. The book’s skillfulness shouldn’t be a surprise. Toronto-born Davidson is an accomplished novelist: his most recent, Cataract City, was shortlisted for the Giller prize while his first book of stories, Rust and Bone, became a harrowing Golden Globes-nominated film.…[He] knows how to kick a story along. …Davidson has a sharp ear for dialogue, and the conversations he has on the bus are the best parts of his book.”
“Precious Cargo…is a thoroughly entertaining, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a writer. … Precious Cargo is the best kind of memoir: light-hearted despite its often serious content, erudite, eye-opening, and thought-provoking. It’s also damned funny.”
“From the start, this book is unique. …Precious Cargo is a tale of growth and redemption. … [Precious Cargo] is shot through with images both uproarious…and tender-hearted. Together, they depict Davidson’s unsentimental education, and offer insight on how best to suffer life’s slings and arrows.”
“[Precious Cargo is a] remarkably uplifting memoir. …At its essence, Precious Cargo is an anthem to self-acceptance.”
“Craig Davidson’s new memoir reveals poignant truths about his year as a Calgary school-bus driver. …[Precious Cargo mixes] personal revelation with a sweet and often funny story about [Davidson’s] bond with the five children on his route. …Davidson’s portrayal of himself is often comically self-deprecating and always witheringly honest.”