Overview

Arnold Hawley, a gay, African–American poet, has lived in NYC for most of his life. Dark Reflections traces Hawley's life in three sections — in reverse order. Part one: Hawley, at 50 years old, wins the an award for his sixth book of poems. Part two explores Hawley's unhappy marriage, while the final section recalls his college days. Dark Reflections, moving back and forth in time, creates an extraordinary meditation on social attitudes, loneliness, and life's triumphs. ...
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Dark Reflections

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Overview

Arnold Hawley, a gay, African–American poet, has lived in NYC for most of his life. Dark Reflections traces Hawley's life in three sections — in reverse order. Part one: Hawley, at 50 years old, wins the an award for his sixth book of poems. Part two explores Hawley's unhappy marriage, while the final section recalls his college days. Dark Reflections, moving back and forth in time, creates an extraordinary meditation on social attitudes, loneliness, and life's triumphs.
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Editorial Reviews

Andrew Holleran
In previous books, Delany has shown himself to be comfortable with both gay and straight, black and white milieus—not to mention various literary forms—but the hero of this heartfelt, often funny book is triply alienated…Dark Reflections, while harrowing and bleak, is mainly tender—a loving rendition of a place that gentrification has all but obliterated, a spot-on portrait of the East Village artist as a gay black geek.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

The title of the captivating latest by the Hugo-winning author of Dhalgrenis also the title of a book of poems written by the novel's poet protagonist, Arnold Hawley. That might strike one as a more straightforward setup than that of Pale Fire. But given that Delany is a poet who gave up writing poetry for a more financially rewarding career writing sci-fi and memoir, and that the fictional Hawley is the same age as Delany and is also black and gay, the reader familiar with Delany's work soon feels that these "dark reflections" form a fascinatingly structured experiment in alternative autobiography—what if Delany had remained a poet and not turned to prose? Hawley's career as a semisuccessful poet istold in reverse, its three sections take the poet from obscure old age to the dawning of youthful ambition. In contrast to the exuberant explorations of the East Village's sexual underworld in Delany's memoirs, poor Hawley's sexual career never really gets off the ground—"what if" for Delany had not come to terms with his sexuality during early 1960s? Delany transforms poetry's status as the most ignored field of American letters into a devastating and beautifully written study of the loneliness and despair that so often accompany the life of the mind in America. (May)

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Kirkus Reviews
Gay African-American poet tries to make sense of his life. Arnold Hawley won the obscure Alfred Proctor Prize for Poetry for an early volume of verse, but larger critical acceptance has been elusive. Delany (Dhalgren, 2001, etc.) divides his narrative into three concatenated sections. In "The Prize," Hawley confronts the fact that his latest volume of poems has not been a success. The narrative moves back and forth through his life, introducing us to his formidable Aunt Bea, an opera-loving polymath whose death precipitated her nephew's breakdown. The second section, "Vashti in the Dark," recounts Hawley's impulsive, egregiously brief marriage (less than 12 hours) to a disturbed and disturbing young woman he had just met on a park bench. (She shifts identities so rapidly that he's not even sure of her name.) Finally, "The Book of Pictures" depicts 23-year-old Hawley grappling with his sexuality while a student at Boston University. He encounters various characters on the periphery of society, most notably a mentally retarded but sexually aware giant rescued from Alabama poverty by a pioneering photographer in homoerotic images. Woven through all three sections is Hawley's attempt to come to terms with his feeling that "pre-Stonewall fear of discovery had been replaced by a post-Stonewall sense of vulgarity in all this public discussion of what, after all, surely should be private." While he recognizes and celebrates a more "modern" acceptance of homosexuality, Hawley ultimately acknowledges that he has never escaped the timidity, terror and shame instilled by his repressive upbringing. Dark reflections layered into a complex, refracted narrative.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786746798
  • Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/30/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • File size: 347 KB

Meet the Author

Samuel R. Delany is a New York novelist and critic, whose first novel was published when he was twenty. His tenth, Dhalgren (1975), currently available from Vintage Books, has sold over a million copies. His more recent fiction includes Atlantis: Three Tales (1995), Hogg, (1995), and Phallos (2004); and his collected short stories, Aye, and Gomorrah (2004), is currently also available from Vintage. Delany has repeatedly won the Hugo and Nebula Awards. He is a recipient of the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a Life-time Contribution to Gay and Lesbian Writing and the Lambda Literary Pioneer Award. His book Times Square Red, Times Square Blue is a staple of gay studies courses. Besides his prize-winning autobiography, The Motion of Light in Water (1988), much of his nonfiction has been collected in three volumes, from Wesleyan University Press, Silent Interviews (1992), Longer Views (1996), and Shorter Views (2001). His most recent non-fiction book, from Wesleyan, is About Writing (2006). He is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia and teaches at the Naropa Summer Writing Program, in Boulder, Colorado.
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