Lighting the Dark Side: Six Modern Tales
William R. Potter
Reviewed by Kam Aures for RebeccasReads (9/08)
“Lighting the Dark Side: Six Modern Tales” consists of six short stories, all of which are very different and unique, spanning the full gamut of fictional genres. The six short stories included in the book are: “Bent, Not Broken,” “In the Gray,” “Prominent Couple Slain,” “May 18, 2010,” “Blessing or Curse?,” and “Surviving the Fall.” After reading all three of the novellas and all three of the shorter works, I can honestly say that I enjoyed each and every one of them.
My favorite novella in the book was the very first one, “Bent, Not Broken.” It is about a man named Dwayne Johnson who is plagued by severe obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We watch Dwayne struggle as what are normal day to day activities for most of us are much more challenging for him. His anxieties are compounded by the fact that his co-workers gang up on him by moving things in his cubicle that he needs to have just so. You can’t help but to feel for the poor guy. Dwayne meets a girl and falls in love with her, but his many issues will be the cause of much strain and difficulty in the relationship.
It is in this first novella that the meaning of the title of the book, “Lighting the Dark Side,” is revealed as well. Dwayne’s girlfriend Dee-Dee is in a mud bath reflecting and meditating. On the phone to Dwayne she tells him that she is “just spending some time lighting the Dark Side.” She says, “everyone has a dark side” which is “that ugliness about our personality that scares the people who see it.” What we need to do “is to fight it, to turn a light against it.” (p. 65)
Each story draws you in within the first few sentences and will hold your attention through the completion. All of the characters are well developed and seem very real. I became so involved in each tale that I found myself wishing that these weren’t short stories and that each work was a full-length novel instead. Don’t get me wrong, the writing was very thorough and the stories were not lacking anything, but I enjoyed the characters and the writing style so much that I just wished that they were longer! In the author’s biography that was sent along with the book it states that he is “re-working two full-length novel manuscripts for publishing” and if these works are anything similar to “Lighting the Dark Side: Six Modern Tales” then I can’t wait to read them!