Life is cruel and life is kind; sometimes it gives and other times it takes. Life is one side of the coin and death is the other. There are the living and there are the dead and then there are the ones trapped in between.
This book knew how to kick me in the gut, right off the bat. I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to say that this book is about death and the dying starts on the very first page. Actually no, that’s not right, this book isn’t about death, it’s about grief, about denial, about the hole death leaves in us and the lengths we’ll go to to fill it again.
Death is an immutable part about being human, it affects us all, it hits us all, and so many of us will do anything we can to pretend it doesn’t exist at all. That is, perhaps, the thing I appreciated most about this book, Mcguire doesn’t sugar-coat anything, there’s no pretty language or fancy dressing; death is death, it happens. What matters is what we do next.
I’ve had some cause to contemplate these things lately. I’ve lost–and isn’t that an interesting turn of phrase? A nice little euphemism. They’re not really gone, we’ve just misplaced them, and maybe we’ll find them again, one of these days.
That’s humanity for you, we’re resilient and optimistic and sometimes more than a little delusional. That’s just how we roll.
I especially appreciate the level, matter-of-fact depiction of suicide. Because I’ve been down that hole, it’s dark and it’s deep and it’s empty. And even though I’m not down in it right now, it will always be a part of me. There are so many reasons to live but, as strange as it may sound, there’s also comfort in knowing that there’s always a way out, if it’s needed, if living becomes an unbearable weight.
But not yet, not today. And for all that Dusk or Dark is an exploration of death, it’s most vividly a celebration of life. There’s a moment I love, a moment when the main character is walking down a street, full of energy and hope, so grateful, so happy, to be there, in that place, feeling life all around her. To me that was every moment that I’ve walked down a city street alive with life and people, every moment I’ve stood in a forest and heard the wind whisper through the trees, every time I’ve sat by the shore and felt the waves pound against the beach–life is so amazing and it’s amazing to be a part of it.
And to think, I got all of that, had all of those emotions, out of a book that’s somewhere around 114 pages. But Mcguire doesn’t need more than that, she’s crafted a gem of a story, complete and full and rich in and of itself. A good number of the characters might be technically dead but her execution renders them all vivid and alive.
Because, in the end, the whys and wherefores of death don’t really matter. It’s the living that counts.