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I See A Darkness

By Gregory Frye.

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To Each Their Darkness, Gary A. Braunbeck, Apex Book Company 2010

To Each Their Darkness served as an introduction for me to writer Gary A. Braunbeck and his work. That is to say I had not read any of his books or short stories when I picked this up. And from page one, none of that mattered.

Here we have a collective mix of reviews, autobiographical anecdotes – scenes that will stick with you for a long time – essays on the craft, and a few other literary surprises. For somebody in my generation (late twenties, early thirties) they will find Braunbeck’s maze of film and book trivia more than worthwhile. For example, I’d never heard of filmmaker John Frankenheimer, and after reading through Braunbeck’s run down of the juicy parts of his career, I’m ready to check out all of the man’s films. Same as filmmaker Sam Pekinpah. Or writers like Ray Garton and Mort Castle. For me, these are some of the things that make the book interesting. Braunbeck piqued my curiosity and my imagination in more ways than one.

In a lot of ways, Braunbeck is all over the place in this book. You never know quite where he’s headed, but he never fails the reader. He never bores, and he knows exactly what he’s doing every step of the way. Braunbeck brings it all together, tying everything into his view of the horror genre, the writing business and ultimately his view of the world.

The aforementioned anecdotes stand out in my mind above all. These tales from Braunbeck’s life are so tragic, so amazing, that I will not reveal any of them here. These points serve as the backbone of the book. Braunbeck uses these experiences as a springboard to show how or why he became a horror writer. He shows us how fiction saved his life at moments far more bleak than most of us have experienced. Or maybe we’ve all been there and are still trying to process or still pushing it away, hiding it, sweeping it under the rug.

But in To Each Their Darkness, Braunbeck lays it all out for the world to see – not to brag or boast obviously but perhaps to save himself, to save the reader. Maybe he wants you to tap into your own darkness. He quotes the late John Gardner to the affect that writers should approach every story, every book like they’re trying to prevent someone from committing suicide.

We have one of those books right here in To Each Their Darkness. This book is a rare specimen. In these pages Gary A. Braunbeck invites us into his office, his personal life, his abyss. And when it’s all said and done, he declares a credo-infused battle cry that will send writers with any sense of integrity running to their Underwoods, their keyboards, notebooks or wherever it is they bleed onto the page.

To Each Their Darkness is a book for writers, anyone curious about writers, fans of horror, or for anyone who has a basic appreciation for what it means to be alive after long days and hard nights of pure struggle – also known as the human condition.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gregory Frye is a struggling novelist who quit his newspaper job and moved to Athens, Greece, in 2008.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, December 10th, 2010.