He calls my name. I still remember my name.
But my thoughts are receding and I'm becoming unclear of much of the details of my life, like a crystal ball filling with soot. They're all leaving me. The distant past was first to go-my childhood, what my school looked like, what I looked like, my family, my friends-all being absorbed into this death that swallows me. There are flashes of things before they disappear, though. Hand-me-down clothes two sizes too big, falling off of my skinny arms and legs. My hair growing long and awkward in places due to home haircuts. Then flash again. Gone.
Flash. And then there's college, now at the forefront. Where I met my wife, Ella. I had friends, whose names are now lost to me, but she is there. Special, different. Beautiful. One of the rich riding through college on parents' money, but she's not like the other women, or even like me.
-from the short story "The Affair"
Portraits in the Dark is a collection of nine tales that delve into the darker side of human existence. From a lonely man succumbing to the wiles of a mysterious female to a young woman confronted with her own possible insanity, this compilation holds stories that range from the literary to the traditionally macabre.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Here are some rather macabre stories that look at the darkness and uncertainty that are part of the world and human nature.In Thailand, a lonely traveling salesman meets a mysterious woman who deals with sales and contracts of a very different sort. A very insecure man suspects that his wife is fooling around, so he takes matters into his own hands, though not in the expected way. A young woman tells the authorities why she did not splatter her mother¿s blood all over their suburban kitchen. The mother was the sort of person who seemed to revel in emotional victimhood.Set in the late 19th century, another story is about the fate of a missing British diamond hunter in deepest, darkest Africa. A woman steals a priceless artifact from a local museum, and leaves two men dead. She is about to take a one-way plane trip to someplace where she will never be found, and live off the worth of the artifact. That is, until the spirits of the dead men pay her a visit, and make her pay for what she did. The book ends with the end of humanity.This is a very short book, barely 80 pages, so this is a short review. These are very interesting and well done stories, but they are not hopeful and optimistic stories. This is very much worth checking out.
Nancy O. Greene's short stories collection certainly lives up to its title. The nine stories are varied in form, style, and content, but all are dark and psychologically complex and full of vivid imagery the suck the reader into the murkiest depths of the human psyche. Some stories ('A Guy Named Pierce') are more expiremental, while others take on a 'fantasy' element ('Fine Print' and 'The Artificact'), while one in particular ('The Descent of Man') seems oddly out of place in the otherwise fine ensemble of tales. Greene is at her best when she really gets deep inside her characters' heads. 'The Affair' is a shockingly effective little piece that puts a new spin on the old 'obsessive husband' story. Greene shows a deeply moving and humanist side with her 'Darkened Sky' that gives us a 'day-in-the-life' slice of a troubled young girl dealing with her harsh surroundings and lack of options in life. Greene shines brightest when she laces her talent for introspective first-person narration with an acerbic wit in the delightfully grotesque one-woman show of bitterness and madness entitled 'Down the Rabbit Hole.' Greene's collection is a slim volume that can be easily devoured in one or two sittings, but won't soon be forgotten.
I couldn't put this book down. It's short so it's easy to read on a weekend. I read it during the day but some of the stories are truly macabre so just for fun I re-read those at night. It was recommended by a friend and I was skeptical but I really enjoyed it. My favorite stories from the collection are The Affair, Down the Rabbit Hole, The Artifact, and The End. The other stories are fantastic too but these grabbed me.