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Sweet Darkness
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-170-8
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Supernatural/Horror/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 186 Pages
Published: September 2004



From inside the flap

There is nothing sweet about Sweet Darkness, the latest feat from skilled writer and editor Richard Logsdon.  Darkness, a collection of fifteen short stories for the very mature reader, is an exploration of the world of the lost and the damned.  In fact, in one of the collection’s sharpest pieces, ?In Hell,? the narrator describes the work’s hero, Sandra, and the antagonist, Father Harold Blackstone, as individuals ?absorbing each other’s darkness.? And in many respects that is exactly what each of the characters who inhabit these stories does.  They are people, who are caught up, some by choice and others by circumstance, in the brutality of devil worship, pornography, sexual obsession, and sacrifice. 


Sweet Darkness (Excerpt)


Introduction

By
T. D. Eliopulos
 
There is nothing sweet about Sweet Darkness, the latest feat from skilled writer and editor Richard Logsdon. Darkness, a collection of fifteen short stories for the very mature reader, is an exploration of the world of the lost and the damned. In fact, in one of the collection’s sharpest pieces, "In Hell," the narrator describes the work’s hero, Sandra, and the antagonist, Father Harold Blackstone, as individuals "absorbing each other’s darkness." And in many respects that is exactly what each of the characters who inhabit these stories does. They are people, who are caught up, some by choice and others by circumstance, in the brutality of devil worship, pornography, sexual obsession, and sacrifice. After reading the collection in its entirety, the reader does not know whom to call first, a psychiatrist, a spiritual adviser, or a bartender. Logsdon seems to relish sending his reader into such a creepy tailspin of emotions. But the careful reader will recover from and see beyond the stories? shock. At first glance, these characters and their worlds are void of all hope, compassion, redemption, or empathy. Or are they? The author skillfully brings the lives of these characters, and for that matter the lives of the reader, to the table. Think, he whispers as we cringe or dare to look away from the page. Many of the settings and occupations of these stories are quite real, quite identifiable: the small towns of the Northwest, the Las Vegas strip, the museums of Florence, the never-ending two-lane highways of the West; the strippers, the college professors, the lonely teenager, the Bible-preaching Pentecostals. Can these easily recognized people and places be that screwed up? Yes, these works scream. But why? they also ask. And with this question lies the psychological intrigue of Logsdon’s writing. Because of Logsdon’s adept use of point of view, the reader is constantly questioning the characters? sense of reality, often as the characters question the same. This mind game creates a very uncomfortable yet engaging tension between characters and reader. In addition to the already mentioned "In Hell," the collections? strongest pieces?"Blood Flowing Backwards," "A Place Without Angels," "Freak World," and "Dreaming of Botticelli"?explore the individual’s quest to manage his or her sense of reality. The characters? realities knot into confusion as a result of their failure or unwillingness to define their existence, to claim their own souls. Ironically, at the end of each work the reader is not entirely certain if the characters have won or lost the battle. That’s part of the charm?and I use this word cautiously here?of the universe of these characters. But with this confusion there is also a freaky clarity as we see in the words of Sarah Gray, the hero of "Blood Flowing Backwards" and "A Place Without Angels," when she confides to her dog Sunny Jim, "Life is one continuing battle with the powers of darkness?and like my Momma said, if we just hold on to Jesus, we are going to win, baby doll, we are going to win." And in creating a world that must make the ghosts of Poe and Hawthorne and Sherwood Anderson howl into the sweet hours of the night, Logsdon too wins with this collection.


A Note To The Reader

Yes, these are stories of horror?at times, extreme gut-wrenching, blood-dripping horror. And, in true Gothic tradition, the female?usually a beautiful woman?is victimized again and again in a viciously predatory world. But Sweet Darkness is more than bloody, Gothic horror. Whether told from first person, second person, or third person point of view, these stories remain deliberate exercises in irony.
 
Begin with the title, Sweet Darkness. While many, perhaps most of the characters in these stories are drawn to all that is loathsome, their willing or unwilling participation in evil generally results in something hideous. Like Sandra of "In Hell," they may be condemned to spend at eternity roasting in the Pit. Or, like Dr. Lazarus of "Sweet Maria," they may find themselves incapable of turning away from the dark things that consume them. Or, again, like Angie in "The Six-Fingered Man," they may experience a temporary psychosis as a result of their confrontation with something unimaginably terrifying. Of all the characters in Sweet Darkness, perhaps only Sarah Gray, in "Blood Running Backwards" and "A Place Without Angels," maintains a compromised goodness in a world seemingly given over to darkness. Then again, Sarah may have lost her grip on sanity long ago.
 
In these stories, point of view functions ironically. While a somewhat objective, third-person point is used in the telling of "Dreaming of Botticelli," the story is offered as anything but an objectified, even glorified depiction of a man who knowingly selects evil in order to hold on to the love of his life. In this story, while evil seems tantalizing, even beautiful, Michael nonetheless makes incredibly stupid choices. First person point of view is used ironically in "Confession of the Blackest Heart." The disemboweling scene in this story, while it certainly pushes the reader near the edge, can be taken as a metaphor for Rocky’s own spiritual disemboweling. Like several of Poe’s narrators, Rocky at the end of his life finds himself incapable of repenting of the horrible deeds he committed years before. As a final example, consider the old, retired professor of "Blood Cult Weekend." Fashioned after the narrator of Herman Melville’s "Bartleby the Scrivener," this professor/storyteller--by his very refusal to take action--is every bit as diabolical as David Harris; the narrator is, in fact, the true villain of this bloody little tale.
 
As you read these stories, therefore, I ask you to accept and appreciate them as well-crafted exercises in horror. But keep in mind that the stories of Sweet Darkness are much more than that.