And Then

Donald Breckenridge. Black Sparrow, $16.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-57423-229-5
In this crisp, fragmented novel, Breckenridge (This Young Girl Passing) captures the dwelling of lost souls in living minds. Told in short vignettes about a few loosely connected characters, the book hopscotches over a span of four decades. Suzanne, escaping from Virginia to New York in the ’70s, meets a photographer named Brian in Washington Square, a place that confirms a “part of the city’s mythology Suzanne was eager to embrace.” Their relationship is tortured, and Suzanne disappears after Brian discovers track marks on her arm. A writer, also from Virginia, tells of the degeneration of his father’s health, culminating in his refusing treatment in 2008 and the writer being helpless to do anything but apply “band-aids to what became the lethal skull infection that killed him.” Back in the ’80s, a college student, Tom, house-sits for his professor, who was Suzanne’s first roommate. He discovers some of Brian’s photographs of Suzanne, and is visited by a ghost that leaves behind a “warm, human dampness.” Every character is similarly haunted (the writer by his father, Suzanne by her mother’s abandonment), and introducing the supernatural into his compact, propulsive tales allows Breckenridge to string a single emotional thread between the harder-to-track shifts in character and time. That unified feeling, however, is grim. “To have a ghost,” Tom remarks, “death is essential.” (May)
Reviewed on: 03/27/2017
Release date: 05/01/2017
Genre: Fiction
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