First published back in October 2012, British author G. R. Yeates’ short story ‘This Darkness Mine’ was the first offering from the author to venture away from the horror genre, and instead embrace an obscene distortion of modern-day culture and society in something akin to the work of the Beat Generation novels.

DLS Synopsis:

He had to be honest with himself - so far, his life hadn’t amounted to much.  He felt like he existed for the mere sake of existence.  Nothing more.  A piece of rotting driftwood in a sea of meaningless corruption.  At work he trudged through formulas on spreadsheets, changing red numbers to black.  Another erroneous financial record solved and then on to the next one.  Outside of work his life was no more rewarding.  He lived alone, without anyone or anything to care about.  Lacking something, anything, that could make him feel he had a purpose to exist for.  Something to make him feel more human.  Something that he longed for.

But even the menial existence that he called his life was to come crashing down around him when, from seemingly out of nowhere, redundancy smashed him in the gut.  With his so-called ‘Exit Interview’ hammering a headstone in the grave of that particular working grave, he found himself tumbling further and further down a hole he couldn’t see the bottom of.  And then he was out on the streets of the Soho Ghetto, scraping away a dismal existence, this time though, with nowhere to fall down from.  Nothing more to lose.  No pathetic life left to have collapse around him.

And in the Soho Ghetto, its carnival time.  But carnivals have a way of turning sour.  And a way of descending into riot.  But that’s life in a decaying corporate city, where existence is cheap, everything can be bought and no one cares whether the person sitting beside them lives or dies.  It’s a toxic world, where it’s all too easy to slip from your perch and find yourself rotting away in a dark, dank forgotten gutter…

DLS Review:
Yeates’ short, like with the majority of his previous work, is immersed in darkness, negativity and corruption.  However, unlike the author’s previous offerings, the short has stepped away from the horror genre per se, and instead embraced a more downtrodden social commentary which wallows in the quite disturbing banality and social degradation of life in modernday cities.

Written in an elongated prose poem format, with distinct inspiration clearly taken from novels from the ‘Beat Generation’ era of writing, Yeates’ ‘This Darkness Mine’ is a contemporary vision of a society that has mutated and corrupted, leaving existence as something that is near worthless.

Yeates examines the social politics within office working life, the fragile state of everyone’s loyalties, the hardship of living amongst a world that turns its cheek on you, and the stigmata of being without work, broken and without a means to rescue yourself.  From around the halfway mark, the short shows our principal character’s gradual downfall into a life of utter despair.  Watching as he ends up out on the streets of Soho Ghetto, where the degradation of society has been magnified and pronounced to obscene levels with utter artistic license.  Here, life is a grubby, filthy and abysmally sick affair.  Everything can be a purchasable commodity, and anything can be consumed by the dirt of the streets.

Yeates pushes the boundaries of poetic license, warping and mutating the world around our nameless narrator, until it’s hard to tell reality from the exaggerated descriptive elaboration.  To be frank – it’s pretty messed up.  Yeates has plunged deeper into the nightmarish abyss of chaotic wordplay which he ventured into time and again during his Vetala Cycle stories, however this time the story never claws itself back out from the madness.  There is no rescue.  Nothing for the reader to latch onto and find a stable ground to view the storyline’s progression (or indeed descent) from.

As disorientating and perplexing as the short tale is, it does perhaps suffer from too much overkill with the unending rot, decay and swirling chaos.  It’s a hard read to get into.  In fact, it’s nigh on impossible to feel a part of.  It’s a hell of a job to keep on track with what’s transpiring and quite a test of endurance to battle through the manic descriptive quagmire that forms the absolute entirety of the text in order to fathom even the most basics of details surrounding our narrator’s changing circumstances.

If you happily digested the likes of William S Burrough’s ‘Naked Lunch’ (1959), Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ (1956) Jack Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’ (1957) or indeed Hubert Selby Jr’s ‘Last Exit To Brooklyn’ (1964) then this is certainly a short story that you should give an hour or so of your time.  The same commentary on broken society, drugs, sex, consumerism and greed can be seen at the heart of the text.  Coupled with the purposefully grotesque distortion of how these topics are delivered and the end result is a pretty darn messed-up read.

It’s certainly not a read for everyone.  Furthermore, I’d probably go as far to say that the short story is hardly for anyone.  It’s meant to be difficult to swallow.  Its tone is purposefully bleak and attacking.  The sexual references that illustrate many of the points are designed to be repulsive and vulgar.  All in all, it’s a pretty unpleasant read for a great number of reasons.  But it’s nevertheless quite addictive in its bizzaro degradation – in a strangely toned down way that Samuel R Delany’s ‘Hogg’ (1995) is.

And it works in a way that you don’t expect it to.  It’s a read that I find hard to recommend, but at the same time wouldn’t hesitate to do so when discussing the more obscene, perverse and altogether depressive work out there.

The short runs for a total of 62 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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