[Book Review] Cataract City by Craig Davidson

It’s not every day a book comes along that has the capability to tug at your heartstrings, but still manage to make you cringe with fear (with a mix of disgust). These types of books make you sit up a little straighter while reading, they make you want  to call up your book loving friends and urge them to read it, just so you can selfishly have conversations about the book. I’ve been counting down the days until I can finally discuss Cataract City with you. Seriously… the tweet below is from May 12th.

I don’t want to wish the summer away, but I can’t wait for 09/03. That’s the day you can all read this AMAZING book http://ow.ly/kWTKi 

Now the day is finally here and now all of you can read (and chat with me) about the brilliance that is Craig Davidson’s book Cataract City.

Maybe it’s the East Coast in me, but I was unaware that Niagara Fall is often called ‘Cataract City’, which makes sense, because the term “Cataract” is derived from the Latin cararacta, meaning “waterfall” (source). Another thing I didn’t know about Cataract city is that it’s a city that many want to escape. Such is the case for Owen and Duncan. Best friends since a young age and closer than most based on a tragic event that bonded them together. The book opens to Owen picking up his friend Duncan from the local jail. When reading this introduction to the novel, you’ll be quick to judge Duncan and his misbehaving ways, but as the story progresses, you’ll be singing a different tune.

As young children, these boys somehow continuously end up in compromising situations. When you’re born into a world, or a town in this case, that Cataract Cityexpects nothing of you, you’re apt to live up to that mentality. How you react to that situation is based on your experiences and although both men have grown up on a similar paths, they choose to take different roads to travel on. As I mentioned above, Duncan’s path lands him in prison. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Owen decides to become to be an enforcer of the law. There differences (job wise) would normally make them feel separated and isolated, but somehow that’s not the case. Their experiences and personalities help them to understand one another in a way no one else seems to understand.

Their need and want to “escape” has no means and that’s why you’ll be on then edge of your seat the entire time you read this novel. You’ll be rooting for both Duncan and Owen while reading and you’ll end up trying to predict what’s on the next page with no avail. I love it when I read a book and I’m not sure where the author is going to take me. Isn’t that the true beauty of any book, to be taken on a journey? Sometimes an unpredictable journey? When  you pick up Cataract City, you’ll be travelling down an unknown path of escape and a desire to find freedom.

Craig Davidson operates a great blog where he’s been posting about the book leading up to its on sale date. Check it out here


7 thoughts on “[Book Review] Cataract City by Craig Davidson

  1. tanya says:

    I’m really starting to wonder if anyone knows Niagara Falls is also known as Cataract City! Did Davidson just make that up? Two of my best friends grew up in NF and had no idea it was called Cataract City.
    Glad to see your perspective on the book and why you liked it so much.

    • Rick Pali says:

      I grew up in Niagara Falls and have never heard it called Cataract City…nor have I heard Nabisco called the Bisk. There’s a lot of artistic license taken with the city.

  2. buriedinprint says:

    I’m really looking forward to reading this one. The relationships, the setting, the themes: it all sounds great. Thanks for the nudge in its direction.

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