Cover image for In the gloaming : stories
In the gloaming : stories
Dark, Alice Elliott.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2000]

Physical Description:
288 pages ; 22 cm
In the gloaming -- Dreadful language -- The jungle lodge -- Triage -- The tower -- The secret spot -- Close -- Maniacs -- Home -- Watch the animals.
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Reviews 2

Booklist Review

A great short-story collection is worth its weight in gold. We've found two. Dark's collection is an exploration of love in its many guises. Old love, new love, every love, and true love. The narrators or protagonists are varied, too, male and female. Beyond the stain of love, the element common to most of these stories is domesticity. Everyone's running to it or from it. The title story exemplifies that aspect and is a model of fine short-story structure. A woman in the twilight of her marriage, when two people are too accustomed to one another, gets an opportunity to spend precious time with her favorite son. Although the woman enjoys this time, taking care of him and having private conversations, the son has AIDS and has come home to die. The inevitable breaks up this idyll, and Dark captures the essence of idealized motherhood: "He shouldn't have had to return my love to me--it was his to squander." Taylor-Hall imparts an easygoing rhythm to her storytelling, a cross between Flannery O'Connor and Eudora Welty. In this collection, she parades a cast of formidable women characters before her spellbound readers. The women are not "formidable" because they're supersmart, superstrong superwomen; instead, they take the measure of modern times and face it down. Undella knows what she knows about dealing with life because of the slick, fast-talking yo-yo salesman who taught her a trick or two. And though her lessons cost her a prized possession, what she lost wasn't like losing a wooden leg, which is what would have happened if O'Connor was telling the story. Instead, Undella rises to the occasion and makes the encounter worth the freedom that self-understanding can bring. --Bonnie Smothers

Publisher's Weekly Review

The title story of Dark's second collection was a major 1994 hit, published in Best American Short Stories of the Century and made into a critically acclaimed HBO film starring Glenn Close, directed by Christopher Reeve. The other nine stories collected here prove that Dark is by no means a one-hit-wonder. Probing the murkiest and the more illuminated regions of the human psyche, these tales reckon with relationships between lovers, spouses, sisters, neighbors and parents and children with a masterful combination of subtle humor, emotional precision and devastating narrative tension. The collection opens with the celebrated title story about a woman tending to her adult son who's dying of AIDS; the tone throughout is one of sorrowful, unnerving quiet until the final, cathartic line. "The Tower" is a spirited tale of a suave, detached bachelor who, upon finally meeting his soul mate, falls madly in love, setting up a chain of coincidences that leads the new couple to a hilarious, unexpected plateau. Similarly twisted humor abounds in "The Secret Spot," which suspensefully skewers a vengeful woman who obsessively plans a long-awaited confrontation with her husband's mistress. Other stories perceptively plumb the relationships between sisters, with "The Jungle Lodge" following two teen sisters on a jaunt in Peru that turns nightmarish, and "Maniacs" showing the despair and longing in a mother taking her two pubescent daughters to the airport so they can fly alone to visit their divorced father. The author manifests the voices of men and women, teens and seniors, with equal dexterity, and whether it's an elderly woman facing the frightening immediacy of relocating to a rest home, a man trying to choose between his wife and his lover, or a dying celebrity desperate for a favor from the home-town neighbors she's always scorned, Dark's characters ring fearlessly, plangently true. Dark (Naked to the Waist) belongs in the annals with literary peers Lorrie Moore and Alice Munro, and with this collection she should garner widespread acclaim and attention. Agent, Henry Dunow. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved