Going Dark

Going Dark[Reading] ➶ Going Dark By Dennis Must – Oaklandjobs.co.uk “Writers aren’t exactly people they’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person” In Dennis Must’s third story collection Going Dark the narrators mirror F Scott Fitzgerald’s observati “Writers aren’t exactly people they’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person” In Dennis Must’s third story collection Going Dark the narrators mirror F Scott Fitzgerald’s observation by drawing the reader into their dissimilar yarns earthy or exalted practical or fanciful An aging actor looks back on his life but whose life does he recall A couple finds a novel way to spice up their marriage but then the fantasy takes on a life of its own Middle aged men struggle to cope with distracted wives and terminal loneliness They look back on hapless childhoods to come to terms with what drove their parents or siblings to suicide infidelity or madness Post World War II Midwest is the predominant setting and Must’s poetic gift captures its moods textures and odors and gives it form and substance in vivid colors and dramatic shades of grayTheir author has been variously compared to Franz Kafka Flannery O’Connor Nathaniel West and Nathanial Hawthorne. Here are 17 of Dennis Must’s short stories previously published in literary journals about a hodgepodge of different characters working through middle class young and old Must has a wide and varied background in the arts and commerce and convincingly gets into the heads of his characters telling their tales from first and third person points of view I almost reneged on reviewing this book due to time conflicts but made the fatal error of opening it and reading the following description of a woman “Alana would braid her raven black hair in one glorious plait When she climbed the stairs at night I’d watch it sweep from the left side of her porcelain back to the right pendulum like” That lovely bit of descriptive prose forced me to reconsider and I read on and found this bit echoing and opposing description of the protagonist’s alter ego in the same story “The SS Waffen officers in jodhpurs gleaming boots and officer’s caps with black patent leather bills and silver skull emblems on their crowns” Must has a spare concise style with great clarity of expression and strong emotional impact no wasted words rich descriptions and limited use of dialogue He stays out of the way never drawing attention to an external storyteller The tales are about the characters not some lofty philosophical puzzle Going Dark for example is about an aging actor who feels death closing and is having difficulty distinguishing himself from the roles he played; Marine Band about a fifth grader during wartime coming to terms with the death of a young US Marine; Houseguest about a man who buys a house filled with the possessions of a man of greater accomplishment than himself who gradually inhabits the previous owner’s life; Red Garter about two brothers who relive family rituals involving father son talk about becoming a man My favorite among them was Comin’ For To Carry Me Home in which a man attends what is supposed to be a jazz concert and is surprised to hear the aged musicians perform the spiritual of the title evoking memories of family members who have passed In it he muses “The pianist’s phrases were muted and sweet; he sang his lines The saxophonist blew earthy rumbles and breathy sibilants” I wondered how long Must labored over that Later in the same story the protagonist recalls his father’s floozies “his chicks wore tight shorts and halters had waterfall cleavages and sunny dispositions” I laughed Award Winning Finalist in the “Fiction Short Story” category of the 2017 International Book AwardsApril 28 2016 by Dactyl ReviewI read Going Dark Selected Stories by Dennis Must Coffeetown Press 170 pages I saw a realistic foundation in each story Here is a recognizable world with real people suffering real life anguish What interested me however was the way the author then handled time space and imagination To come to grips with it I had to invent a literary term—lyrical surrealism—to distinguish Must’s work from fantasy which to my mind means dragons and dragonspeak time warps elves and men with long beards carrying oaken staves and speaking some dialect of incomprehensible originThere is much pain and sorrow in these stories but the writer glides over it as if to say—That’s right but let’s move on But oh what moving onThe way I see it these stories despite their foundation in a concrete world twist away from the real The work isn’t naturalistic neither is it realistic nor completely surrealistic It has instead this element of the beyond which the French poet Stephane Mallarmé called the “au dela” and others called the ephemeral In Going Dark the drudgery of realism is loosened and the imagination which is the wellspring of the surreal then combines unexpected images to produce a state of mental reality of its own This is Lyrical SurrealismThere is of course little lyrical about French surrealism so Must has come up with something that bends genres while staying faithful to a time and place of loss and yearning That in itself evokes the surreal which is always yearning for something which reality cannot giveThese stories tell tales of a lost time The way Must handles the uest for the “I” or the “self” is intriguing and has given him in the long run a style which is at once timeless and bound with the time of a lost worldThere are elements in the stories that appear in Must’s novel The World’s Smallest Bible Red Hen Press elements which remind me of the way the Spanish playwright Fernando Arrabal and the American mystery novelist Raymond Chandler used their work as foundation for complex and challenging pieces This techniue lends to Must’s writing a sense of self referentialism–one of my favorite techniues For example a truck load of trucks a car towing a car The self referential suggests a closed system while our minds are working on and yearning for something beyond–hence our Martian and Saturnian journeysThe social substrate of Nazism and the SS infuses Must’s work to produce a terror of the mind and a fear of death that combines with suicides to leave the reader with a feeling of complete horror at being alive The number of suicides in these stories made me think and as someone once write about Samuel Beckett his is a work that makes you think so Must joins some big league writers in toying with our mind while giving us stories with anchors No mean feat thatThese lines struck me for their suggestive and haunting emotional basesSo in truth I was an adult looking twelve and having to relive the torment that I would commit suicide if I was honest with myselfApparently a year before I met her she’d been jilted by her football star sueeze for a best girlfriend causing her periodic spells of crying loss of appetite and suicide flirtationIt wasn’t the tranuil suicide but metaphor of the joining rivers that haunted meThe poetics of prose run strong and deep in Must’s stories His is a lyrical prose that at times enters pure poetry—which I think of as images compressed condensed and evocative rather than descriptive Take a look at thisI watched him trot like a mustang through that meadow the fire leaping out of his pant legs and dripping off his hands like water into the dry stubble; it snaked across the meadow that flame keeping right up to him never getting ahead of him trailing him as if it was how he ordained itIf you work that a bit you get metered lines with strong imagesI watched him trot–a mustang through that meadowfire leaping out of his pant legs and drippingoff his hands like water into the dry stubble;it snaked across the meadow that flame keepingright up to him never getting ahead of himtrailing him as if it was how he ordained itThere are places where I stopped reading for story just to enjoy Must’s words In the words in the vocabulary Must speaks to us living in an age that does not enjoy lexical prowess but seems to seek out the lowest elements in the lexicon In Going Dark Must refuses to admit that the dumbing down of America is in full swing and I like that although I despair as wellIn his novel The World’s Smallest Bible Must entered the lost world of the illustrated novel I think of Gustav Doré’s illustrations for The Divine Comedy and I also look at my 1933 Bibliophilist Society copy of Roxana DeFoe’s masterpiece and I see a book that treats the eye as well as the ear Going Dark does just that It is not a comic book but an integrated work of words with scattered drawings—in short it is what Must’s publisher calls the hybrid novel The author must feel happy also that he found an artist who shares his vision He is to be congratulated for taking this risk—writing smart in a time of great stupidity Going Dark Selected Stories is a joy to read and you must read it on several levels Highly recommended for readers who do not believe that literary fiction is a thing of the past Jack Remick author of Trio of Lost Souls 2016 b brilliant collection of stories by a master story teller

Paperback  ¿ Going Dark MOBI ¼
  • Paperback
  • 184 pages
  • Going Dark
  • Dennis Must
  • English
  • 15 August 2016
  • 9781603813976