Of Darkness

Josefine Klougart, trans. from the Danish by Martin Aitken. Deep Vellum (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (312p) ISBN 978-1-941920-50-3
Timeless meditations on life and death weave a tantalizing, sometimes treacherous web through Klougart’s sixth novel and second American publication (following One of Us Is Sleeping). Copenhagen serves as a starting point, but the tale flows through settings as deftly as it does through seasons. A cast of anonymous characters populates the narrative, beginning with a man and woman in mourning, scattering the man’s father’s ashes at sea. Loss weaves through the pain of their strained relationship, and the intimacy of time has both bound them together and worn out their romance. Carefully crafted prose both clouds and illuminates the ache of watching a loved one fade in sickness or extinguish himself in suicide. The woman must face her aging mother’s regression into childlike dependence. Later, the unbridgeable space that opens between the woman and man plays out in the form of a script. The man ruminates on the past through photographs, noting that the woman is “the only family he has left.” Sometimes told in a few spare words per page, the story’s ever-changing form emulates the continuously evolving shape of grief. The story ends as it began, with the man and woman drawn together in grief by the ocean. The weight of the revelations that all things are “joined and dependent on something else” and that everyone is isolated but also “in danger together” are tempered only by fleeting moments of feeling “more together than alone.” (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2017
Release date: 02/01/2017
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