This week we're featuring a story by one of GA's Classic authors, one that isn't quite finished based on the story status (always important to check if you have a preference). Good thing we have a lot of ways to filter stories. Even better than just doing a search for stories, are these great reviews by our very own review team. And today's review of Duncan Ryder's story is by Parker Owens. Let's see what he thought of How The Light Gets In.
Reviewer: Parker Owens
Status: In process (= unfinished)
Word Count: 91,687
The lives of two young men who have known too much darkness in their lives intersect. They and their friends search for relief, and for healing. This is a sequel to the excellent story Everybody’s Wounded, but it can stand alone.
How the Light Gets In is the second in a two-part novella. In the first part, Everybody’s Wounded, we meet three of the four central characters in part two. Even so, How the Light Gets In is the more powerful, more compelling of the two halves, perhaps because the reader is given deeper insight into the dark night of hurt which haunts each one. Readers should be warned that this story deals with very problematic subjects: rape and suicide. Ryder writes about these things with considerable and commendable care and compassion for his characters.
The two central personalities, Luc and Matt are returning to university in deeply unhappy circumstances. Each is enveloped in his own inky well of gloom. Josh and Scott, students at the same university, are lovers. They, too, have a history of hurt. These four men share interlocking stories and injury and love. The tale unwinds some of these, while each man slowly gravitates through his own ache to that place in the dark where he realizes he is not alone. Ryder shifts viewpoints deftly to describe and develop their intersections, and these drive the story forward.
One might be forgiven for feeling that one is reading or watching a French film. Conversation, both intimate and general, propels the plot onward at many points. This is not to say there aren’t dramatic moments of action; there are. Yet it is not these instances we recall, but how these young men handle, discuss, and interpret them. Growth comes with reflection and dialogue. It is a subtle way to tell a story, but effective, and very much in keeping with the way real people recover from deep injury.
The growth and depth in the central characters is an abiding strength of the novella. Each has many facets, each has multiple layers. These young men, as well as their circle of friends, are well drawn without forcing too much detail upon the reader. One can easily call each person in the story to mind, but variations in what readers invent are certain. It is a trait of good writing to allow the reader to imagine, and Ryder does this especially well.
However one imagines them, Ryder gives us understanding to connect with these men individually. One cannot help but care for them and sympathize with them as they make their way toward something more hopeful.
How the Light Gets In is not without its flaws. There are times when characters respond to situations with maturity and wisdom quite unexpected in young undergraduate students. They seem older than their years, perhaps because of the burden each one carries. In addition, readers complained that the final chapter did not feel like an ending. A number of comments expressed a need for more, for some definite feeling of closure.
Ryder does not give readers a happy-ever-after denouement. Instead, we get a far deeper moment in which darkness is transcended by the ever brightening and broadening cracks in its curtain. In this way, Ryder connects us to the quote from Leonard Cohen’s lyrics which provided the title for the story.
This was one the first things I read on GA. Its quality made me return to explore further. I hope other readers will find this classic tale still compelling, and that it still sings its song and weaves its spell for many more to come.
Category: Fiction Genres: Drama, Romance Tags: young adult, adult, gay, university Rating: Mature