The Dark Sunshine by Len Kuntz

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#1, this was a great book.

If this review was written in the style of the Dark Sunshine, it would be incredibly concise, dark (of course), expansive in use of both imagination and pulse. Instead, this review is going to amble along, crash into walls, smile too much. This review will have wasted words, The Dark Sunshine doesn’t have a wasted word, letter, even a wasted comma.

I feel good after completing Len Kuntz’s collection of pitch perfect flash fiction, like I just attended a workshop. It’s the kind of writing that reads like an instruction manual on ‘how to master brevity’, ‘how to flesh out entire worlds in the narrowest footprint possible’, ‘how to introduce a protagonist/antagonist you’ll never forget in the same space as a 120 character Twitter transmission.’

The collection seems prototypical, as Howie Good puts it in the blurb on the back of the book, “Len Kuntz’s flash fiction is everything flash fiction should aspire to be–surreal, macabre, humorous …”

He’s damn right about all that.

Dark Sunshine has a thread running down the middle: the tread an unease, a dysfunction, a mysterious problem–but it is not just between a man and a woman, or the children; it’s beyond the house and it’s domestic troubles, it’s the town too and the the strange neighbors, cops and therapists; there’s an existential crisis stretching over the entire globe, wrapping around this universe, and alternate universes, planes of existence. It’s all troubled.

Okay, before we get any farther with all the darkness, doom and warranted pessimism–I should tell you something, Len Kuntz is incredibly funny. His comedic timing is startling. These are jokes that we might be laughing at in self defense, but the good news is, Kuntz has mastered minimalism so well, we can’t be sure anyway if we’re the brunt of the joke. Often it’s society at large, the way we look at things wrong, the way we fail at loving each other.

The joy in this book lies in the simple things, the smallest factors, that somehow shine the brightest. It comes down to how fresh the characters are. They are very much alive on the page, reacting to their various situations, completely unpredictably.

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