Hal Bennett LORD OF DARK PLACES and Apocalypse Now

I’m reading Hal Bennett’s LORD OF DARK PLACES.

I’ve had the kind of week, where reading Hal Bennett seems a logical end to such a week.

I’ve never read anyone quite like him.

His writings are horrible tales of lives horrendously lived, but there’s a manic humor, the humor of the absurd and tragic, that he plays up that will have you amused at the same time you are horrified. I laughed out loud in places that I felt conflicted laughing at. These are bad places and bad things Bennett is discussing.

I mean some of it is so out of the blue and outrageous, he’ll have you inflamed with rage, then in the next sentence make your jaw drop, and a sound not unlike laughter escape you. I’m uncertain how comfortable I am with that, but I know only a Satirist of consummate skill can pull off such a confluence of emotions.

Reading him, following up reading Pearl Cleage’s DEALS WITH THE DEVIL:AND OTHER REASONS TO RIOT (filled with diatribe’s and rants to make even me seem calm in comparison) is not exactly a feel good prescription. But he can write.

You may not particularly care for the twisted and twisting Jim Crow world he writes about, but the beauty of his language, in an age of dumbed-down Black ‘literature’ and ‘music’ is like manna from heaven.

Here is a word-smith, worthy of every tree sacrificed, and every bit of ink used.

‘Her Large cow eyes were still open and gazed somehow to the left, as though death had surprised her from that side.”

and

“There were about a hundred of them in all, but the women in the congregation outnumbered the men two to one, because a woman is always alert for news of any religion in which she might become the Virgin Mother and enjoy the ineffable mystery of having her tail played in by the Holy Ghost. These women were no different. They wore clean drawers in case tonight was the night, or in case they got too happy and fainted and their dresses came up.”

My final verdict is still out on LORD OF DARK PLACES, being only a quarter of the way in. I know so far it is best in small doses, but I also know… I’ll keep coming back to it.

There is this line in Apocalypse Now, where the General says to Martin Sheen’s character of an especially unappetizing looking local dish, ‘If you eat it, you will never have to prove your courage any other way”, the same can be said of Hal Bennett’s LORD OF DARK PLACES.

If you read it, you will never have to prove your courage any other way.

And that right there… is a recommendation.

These are
times that kill ya
these are
times that spill ya
these are
times that kneed you into ground

[repeat 2 times]

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