A Small, Dark Miracle of a Book

Katherine Coldiron at 3:AM Magazine:

How do you recommend an experience you never want to have again? How does a film critic say, for instance, that Requiem for a Dream is a must-watch, when it’s infused with such ugliness and despair? When a piece of art is unapologetically dark and unpleasant but of objectively excellent quality, finding a way to push audiences toward it is a challenge.

In this vein is Thirty-Seven, by American novelist Peter Stenson, an intense, exceptionally well-made, unforgettable book. I loved every word, but I can’t suggest it’s an enjoyable read. It’s a horror story without ghosts or beasts, a book that continually evokes Rorschach, in Watchmen, saying “as dark as it gets.” Meticulously constructed, Hitchcockian in its layering of tension, Faulknerian in its network of ideas, wise and strange as an angel, black as a night in a dungeon. Certainly one of the best books I read in 2018. But difficult to recommend. At least, not if you’re looking for a comfortable ride.

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