Dark Horse

Kristina Marie Darling. C&R, $16 trade paper (98p) ISBN 978-1-936196-66-1
Darling (Je Suis L’Autre), a PW contributor, transforms a crumbling marriage into a macabre and ethereal dreamscape in this artful series of cinematic vignettes. The fragmented prose text, bookended by blacked-out pages titled “Prologue” and “Epilogue,” follows protagonist Jane Dark through a fantasy world created to express an otherworldly and almost inexpressible pain: “I tore the flowers, one by one, from the ground.” A courtroom, a theater, and a seashore are among the backdrops in Darling’s landscape of Beckettian symbolism. The work opens enigmatically due to Jane’s fragmentary thoughts, but that resolves as she circles back to the same ideas, eliciting a sense of continual anticipation in the reader. Darling is occasionally sardonic (“I’ve never understood the difference between ‘dying’ and ‘dead’ ”) and acerbically witty: “There are some things a husband shouldn’t have to see. For example, the tiny red marks on the back of my arm.” Crafted with surgical dexterity, the work’s concentrated emotional imagery captures the ephemeral nature of memory: “Were we seeing a design in the narrative when all that was really there was the hand on the waist, the movement of a white dress in the middle distance.” Surreal and elegant, Darling’s exploration of indelible romantic loss is open-hearted and empowering. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/16/2018
Release date: 05/15/2018
Genre: Fiction
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