Going Dark Selected Stories by Dennis Must


General FictionGoing Dark Selected Stories by Dennis MustReview by Molly

Dennis Must’s Going Dark Selected Stories is a succession of 17 short stories opening with Title tale Going Dark in which an aging actor tells us of his life, or theirs, or ours, who knows; as he offers the address, or name of spouse and children of characters he has played.

Writers may well be supposed to be a congregation of discrete and distinct persons working in harmony to generate something on paper solely from their productive minds; and Writer Must does give the impression to fit that analogy. Dennis Must’s third short story anthology, Going Dark, presents a raconteur a la F. Scott Fitzgerald meditative pretext by transporting the reader into each of the dissimilar accounts be they matter-of-fact or stately, rational or imaginative.

Going Dark, the initial sketch offered presents a mature actor as he reminisces re his life and looks back short of appreciating wholly what is recollected, and what was merely a performance.  The fight to comprehend death and managing skills to accept the state of affairs is the focus for Marine Band.  A couple facing tedium in their marriage look for ways to add a little zing, only to grasp they might have considered and accepted life as it had been.     Writer Must’s writing is expressive, as he approaches the numerous stages of life we all share as we too transfer from childhood to youth, to conceivably consider marriage or other association, and, at the end face the inevitable death that awaits us all.  Lives so unrelated yet very much the same; are the ones brought to life under the pen of this skillful writer.

Dennis Must’s assortment of short accounts, is at once a multilayered thought provoking psychological frolic in addition to being a deeply seated thoughtful work; brimming with anxiety, as distant, unapproachable, self-absorbed characters usually at odds with themselves, others around them, and life in general.

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. Overall, “the collection becomes a captivating study of the quandary of good, evil, the nature of human identity, and the function of art.”

Various story titles found in this slim volume of 17 short stories includes Marine Band, Boys, Houseguest and Chet Baker Crosses the Allegheny.  The latter relates a series of mishaps in which autos play a key role.

A few of the tales are graced with an illustrations done by Rostislav Spitkovshy; Boys , The Day My  Father Died, The Joining and Dry Bread and Turnip Soup each is embellished with a single page drawing.     A short author bio finishes the work ; Author Must was born and raised in Pennsylvania, attended college and in Pennsylvania. He decided against entering the clergy despite 2 years at Princeton Theological Seminary, he opted instead to attend a playwright’s workshop in Iowa before teaching at various locations in Pittsburgh and New York City.

After a pleasant career spent writing, directing and co-producing his own plays in collaboration with John Hawkins; his final production ended in Greenwich Village 1974.

In addition to writing, Must, has worked as a cabinet maker,  bartender, bell hop, founded a real estate firm, and has worked as a general laborer in a glass factory, steel mill and on a rail line. With is diverse life he is well equipped to write tales of substance on many subjects and flesh them out so that they come alive on the page.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend for those who enjoy a bit of the avant garde.

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