Print Reviews

Water In Darkness

by Daniel Buckman

Akashic Books

Some people, thorough no fault of their own, lose control of their lives and fall into the semi-unemployed, semi-homeless drifter alcoholic life style. Other people, perhaps more fortunate, end up in the same place, but have the kindness of evil outside forces to blame that situation on – abusive homes, drugs, Vietnam, or having had daddy shot in Vietnam. This is a story of those people, how they started low and slid lower, kicked in the face by themselves and the people they meet, into an internal abyss that can never be filled with cheap hookers, cheap booze, and senseless violence.

Jack Tyne joined the paratroopers for no reason other than there was no reason not to. Danny Morrison shot American troops in Hue City to save them from the worse death of no death for hours, and because the damn VC wouldn’t come out and stand still. Now they both wander around the nightmare city of Chicago, Danny kicked off the police force for smoking crack, and Jack with nothing real but a longing for the father he never saw and would have hated had they ever met. At least Danny has a gun, and when you plug a local in this ‘hood, there’s no police response, no ambulance, no funeral. Just one less person sucking up oxygen and Thunderbird.

So, what’s the story? You just heard it. It’s a bleak land filled with desolation, loss, and hopelessness. The postcard views from hell are sharply inscribed, the nowhere to go and nothing to do world of the homeless and under-employable drawn with a crystal sharpness. There’s no love, damn little companionship, and every five pages, someone vomits, passes out from a beating, or gets their head split from no particular reason. A few things stick in my mind – Danny giving up crack with no struggle, the author’s confusion about how an acetylene torch functions, and the violent drifter who offers to wire Jack some money from California as soon as he finds work. Beyond that, there’s only a sparkle of broken glass on every corner, confused characters and situations, and the feeling that even without the big bad war and the big bad army and big bad missing daddy, these losers couldn’t write their name in the snow with a stencil. You’re not going to go feed any of these guys on Thanksgiving, no matter how guilty you feel.

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