Review by Ben Moeller-Gaa
There are many different kinds of books out there. Some ask questions. Some answer questions. And some lie in between. Kristina Marie Darling’s books fall into the latter category. Her work actually goes a step further and requires the reader to ask their own questions and search for their own answers. Darling is a master of empty spaces, both being unafraid to leave most of the physical page of a book empty, giving us only footnotes to decipher, but also for allowing empty space within the text that allows you to enter into it and make of it what you will. It takes guts to do this and great skill to do it right. When reading Brushes With, her guts and skill quickly become evident.
This is a book of flash fiction consisting of 8 short titled pieces/chapters that don’t quite fill up a single page along with two illustrations that serve up as the Appendix. These pieces are not told in chronological order and are impossible to decipher without the footnotes. Each piece contains anywhere from 5 to 17 footnotes. The footnotes are the keys to unlocking the text even as they spin it on its head. Whether the footnotes are based on factual real world truth or simply part of the fiction is up to you to decide. Either way, they speak to the truth of the book. For example, in the piece titled “ANTARCTICA”, we have the following lines:
So I sit down and try to carve a man from a block of ice.
In every direction, the same snow-covered fields. 24
These are footnoted with the following:
24. Throughout the nineteenth century lyric poetry, the heroine’s desires are
projected onto the meadow itself.