Precious Cargo by Craig Davidson
For readers of Kristine Barnett's The Spark, Andrew Solomon's Far From the Tree and Ian Brown's The Boy in the Moon, here is a heartfelt, funny and surprising memoir about one year spent driving a bus full of children with special needs.
With his last novel, Cataract City, Craig Davidson established himself as one of our most talented novelists. But before writing that novel and before his previous work, Rust and Bone, was made into a Golden Globe-nominated film, Davidson experienced a period of poverty, apparent failure and despair. In this new work of riveting and timely non-fiction, Davidson tells the unvarnished story of one transformative year in his life and of his unlikely relationships with a handful of unique and vibrant children who were, to his initial astonishment and bewilderment, and eventual delight, placed in his care for a couple of hours each day--the kids on school bus 3077.
One morning in 2008, desperate and impoverished 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 unexpected 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.” —Ian Brown, The Globe and Mail
“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.” —Quill & Quire
“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.” —Maclean’s
“[Precious Cargo is a] remarkably uplifting memoir. . . . At its essence, Precious Cargo is an anthem to self-acceptance.” —Toronto Star
“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.” —Eric Volmers, Calgary Herald
“The normally hard-hitting Craig Davidson shifts gears into more tender and uplifting territory with his memoir. . . . Davidson doesn’t sugar-coat anything—[which is] perhaps the memoir’s greatest strength. . . . [A] welcome dose of positivity, handled with just as much skill as you’d expect from a writer of this calibre.” —Winnipeg Free Press