All Down Darkness Wide: A Memoir

Seán Hewitt. Penguin Press, $26 (224p) ISBN 978-0-593-30008-4

Laurel Prize winner Hewitt (Tongues of Fire) mines the capriciousness of love and pain in this poignant reflection on living with a clinically depressed partner. Unable to find steady work after graduating Cambridge, Hewitt set off on a backpacking trip through South America, where he met Elias. The two quickly fell in love and Elias moved back to Liverpool with Hewitt, despite only knowing him for a short time. “It felt right,” Hewitt writes. “I’d wanted so long to have someone like him.” However, when the pair moved to Elias’s native Sweden, a crisis unfolded as the Elias Hewitt knew, typically easygoing and boisterous, was ripped away by a struggle with depression that led to a suicide attempt. In a raw and hypnotic retelling reminiscent of Garth Greenwell’s Cleanness, Hewitt recounts the turmoil of loving someone who “was shadowed at every turn by an inversion of himself,” and whose depression he became ensnared in; over five years, Hewitt writes, “I was so numbed I was barely aware of its presence.” Yet amid the devastation—which crescendos at their relationship’s end—Hewitt crafts a moving story of salvation, as he charts his path out of darkness and into self-acceptance. It’s an exquisite vision of queer heartbreak and liberation. (July)
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