Reviewed by Molly Martin
Going Dark: Selected Stories
by Dennis Must
Illustrator Rostislav Spitkovsky
Paperback: 184 pages, August 1, 2016, ISBN-13: 978-1603813976
Dennis Must’s Going Dark is a succession of 17 short stories. Must’s writing is expressive, as he approaches the numerous stages of life we all share in the transition from youth to maturity to the inevitable death that awaits us all. The lives in these stories are unrelated, and yet very much the same. The work is at once a multilayered thought provoking psychological frolic in addition to being a deeply seated thoughtful work. Whatever the overview or leitmotif, each portrayal in this work ultimately goes dark as Must probes deep within the core of his intricate, complex characters.
“Going Dark,” the title piece, presents a mature actor as he reminisces about his life and looks back in an attempt to work out what is recollected, and what was merely a performance. Many of the characters are anxious, distant, unapproachable, and self-absorbed, at odds with themselves, others around them, and life in general, and the work examines the arc as they begin to change in the face of life’s inevitable challenges. Some of the pieces are funny, such as “Chet Baker Crosses the Allegheny” in which a series of vehicle mishaps take place. Others, like “Marine Band”, explore the way in which we comprehend death, through the eyes of a couple facing tedium in their marriage who look for ways to add a little zing.
Whatever the overview or leitmotif, each portrayal in this work ultimately goes dark as Must probes deep within the core of his intricate, complex characters. Taken collectively, the work explores things like the nature of good and evil, human identity, how we make meaning of our lives and the way in which art can transform our experiences. A few of the tales are graced with evocative single page illustrations by Rostislav Spitkovshy. These are powerful stories that will particularly appeal to those who enjoy a bit of the avant-garde.