"A writer of seemingly limitless range." — Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours.
This Stonewall Book Award-winning novel traces the life and unrealized dreams of Arnold Hawley, a gay African American poet. The tale unfolds in three non-chronological parts, starting in the twenty-first century with Hawley's lonely old age and the failure of his latest volume of poetry. The narrative then retreats to the 1970s to recount Hawley's impulsive marriage to a homeless woman. A final section revisits the poet's student days, during which an aborted sexual encounter sets the pattern for a lifetime of regrets and missed opportunities. A meditation on isolation and sexual repression, Dark Reflections also offers an acerbic look at the literary world and the frustrations intrinsic to artistic life.
"A devastating and beautifully written study of the loneliness and despair that so often accompany the life of the mind in America." — Publishers Weekly
"Dark Reflections is among the most detailed, thoughtful, and heartbreaking portrayals of a writer's life." — Los Angeles Review of Books
The title of the captivating latest by the Hugo-winning author of Dhalgren is also the title of a book of poems written by the novel's poet protagonist, Arnold Hawley. That might strike one as a more straightforward setup than that of Pale Fire. But given that Delany is a poet who gave up writing poetry for a more financially rewarding career writing sci-fi and memoir, and that the fictional Hawley is the same age as Delany and is also black and gay, the reader familiar with Delany's work soon feels that these "dark reflections" form a fascinatingly structured experiment in alternative autobiography what if Delany had remained a poet and not turned to prose? Hawley's career as a semisuccessful poet istold in reverse, its three sections take the poet from obscure old age to the dawning of youthful ambition. In contrast to the exuberant explorations of the East Village's sexual underworld in Delany's memoirs, poor Hawley's sexual career never really gets off the ground "what if" for Delany had not come to terms with his sexuality during early 1960s? Delany transforms poetry's status as the most ignored field of American letters into a devastating and beautifully written study of the loneliness and despair that so often accompany the life of the mind in America.