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Darkness Then a Blown Kiss

by Golda Fried

Darkness Then a Blown Kiss is Golda Fried’s first collection of stories: emphatically alternative and experimental in nature, the book stands as a series of notes from the outpost.

Fried, whose work has been published in a variety of zines, invokes the spirits of girls everywhere who have huddled in the corners of Goth bars, scribbling into notebooks. And Gutter Press’s A Ken Sparling Book imprint is hell-bent on showcasing the writer as a dreamy Acker-ish iconoclast.

The text is accompanied by comix-outlaw Vesna’s creepy cartoons, the back cover bumpf is stoically oblique – “These stories are diary shreds of young girls who are in school but things happen anyway.”

Fried’s poetic talent asserts itself through each story; she is a shrewd phrase-turner (“Grandma’s sultry red change purse”) who documents the ordinary as extraordinary, with varying degrees of success. Because the book appears to have been haphazardly edited, fine clear lines like “He wore a trashy olive green leather jacket and was called Toad” grind against poemy nonsense: “The mint leaves are just lumps saying dreampads.”

Darkness Then a Blown Kiss is a very femme book, a girlie-diary view of the sticky heartbreak of loving boy writers, cruel boys, and huggable boys who play guitar. The stories evoke, almost too well, the nauseous candy that is female adolescence, as inscribed in the very private genre of teenage amour-lit.

The stories are, cumulatively, enervating, given the sameness of voice and pang: “I’m not obsessed, I just really like him.” Individually, the stories vary. “zoon & joon & the sleepover guest,” is an unstaunched surrealist mess, while the stories “tubs” and “you better come on” are, respectively, lovely instances of imaginative power and elegy.

Had this collection been pruned for dead-awful lines like “six body-bag looking bags,” and weeded for its surfeit of adolescent angst, Fried’s writing would glitter as brightly as all of her sugar and starlet imagery.