”The Dark Forces” reveals an adult son coming to terms with the death of his author father, against the backdrop of resentment toward his stepmother, which he later realizes has been tempered by their mutual experiences. In his analysis, Christian Schlegel points out this story’s motif of defining an author’s legacy, reminiscent of Jean’s career path, and goes on to dismantle patriarchal husband-wife dynamics in “The Offer,” a story of a wife’s desire to donate a kidney to a critically ill male friend and her husband’s obsessive worry at his inability to control what he views as an admission of guilt between the two.
Much of the collection orbits the ups and downs of marital relationships, with Chekovian insight, detai, and feeling. “The End of a Good Party” centers on a married man justifying his excess drinking and promiscuity because it occurs at parties of alleged intellectuals, while former college students scrutinize their friend’s affair with their now-deceased professor in “The Sky Fading Upward to Yellow,” contemplating whether she should reveal their tryst in order to secure a public mention in his biography. Throughout, Justice delicately unearths contemplations on intimacy and passion. Readers who favor skillful rendering of complex human interactions–and incisive examinations of such material–will not be disappointed.
Takeaway: A welcome, distinguished collection by an overlooked master of 20th century fiction.
Great for fans of: William Trevor, Katherine Anne Porter.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A