My review of Nicole Krauss’s Forest Dark appeared in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald over the weekend and can be read, here.

Reading Forest Dark, was one of the most disorientating experiences I’ve ever had reading a book. For much of the time, I found the book difficult to read, the prose leaden and quite a slog to get through, particularly in the strands of the novel narrated by Krauss’ ‘Nicole’. I found the prose in those sections quite essayistic and lacking in the kind of sensuous detail I love in fiction – the way fiction embraces the observable world and draws our attention to the things we might otherwise miss. This absence was particularly noticeable given the connections Krauss is drawing to W.G. Sebald and Sebald’s own gift for drawing attention to beautiful, observable details.

On the other hand, the book was about a writer’s disillusionment with writing and the insights Krauss had into this were quite unsettling and profound. Each time I thought Krauss was faltering, I also thought she was reaching for truths that were beyond the grasp of language. Then the ending comes and it’s deeply unexpected and jolting, which made this a difficult book to review – how to give a sense of the book’s meaning without giving away the ending.

My conclusion about Forest Dark is that it’s a high stakes undertaking for Krauss; she risked everything with this book. It really is one of the most rewarding conclusions I’ve ever read to a novel.

Published by gretchenshirm

Sydney writer and critic. Author of Having Cried Wolf.

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