Sunday, October 19, 2014

Far From Streets

Far From Streets
Michael Griffin

Far From Streets is a work of long fiction published by Dunhams Manor Press, an imprint of Dynatox Ministries.

In this brief and splendidly written book, Mike Griffin creates a vivid portrait of marriage and the passage of time, using one location as a reference point and a metaphor. The realistic and (perhaps) magical elements balance perfectly, creating ambiguity and room for interpretation. I was reminded of two classic studies in society and marriage, "The Summer People" by Shirley Jackson and "The Swimmer" by John Cheever. But this story is in no way derivative. Griffin has his own strong narrative voice with which to entice the reader to a place of dark corners and deep regret.

Dane and Carolyn are lucky. They're intelligent, fit, and affluent. Better still, their love is real, though flecked with the small irritations and quick, bright moments of nihilism that characterize many long-term relationships, held together by passion as much as by habit. Carolyn wants her dream house in the suburbs. Dane longs for the fantasy fulfillment of living in a cabin in the woods. They're hard-working and they're American, so they try to have it all. And while they try, and they struggle with one another's thwarted expectations, life is passing.

Compressed into short chapters, most of them beginning when the characters wake up at the cabin on weekends, Far From Streets develops an eerie atmosphere, a sense that someone or something is stuck. As Dane and Carolyn negotiate over the circumstances of their lives, the stakes rise. They lash out in an escalating series of violent episodes until the strangeness of their surroundings can no longer be denied. Is the rural setting real, glimpsed across many years, or is it a dreamscape in which this tale of conjugal conflict can be seen in all its potential beauty and madness? Every reader will have to decide the answer.

Highly recommended.

(Note: I received a review digital copy of Far From Streets via the author.)

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