Ben Winch's Reviews > Dark Spring

Dark Spring by Unica Zürn
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it was amazing
bookshelves: german, lost-modernists, mainland-european, 5-stars
Read 3 times

“How can we linger over books to which their authors have manifestly not been driven?”

Georges Bataille
Manifestly, Unica Zurn was driven to Dark Spring, a miracle of compression, focus and intensity that charts a young girl’s thwarted sexual development with nightmare immediacy. From the opening –
The first man in her life is her father...
– she’s determined, to strip away, from the raw detail of her childhood, the truth – the myth – below it, employing a third-person present-tense perspective that collapses the years lived by its 50 year old author and drops her – clairvoyant style – in the centre of her subject as no mere “I” account could. This is stark, it’s now, it’s frightening. On the level of craft, it’s sure-footed as can be, every word purposeful, connected, alive. It’s short (80 small pages – 15,000 words at most – and a 30 page introduction more analytical than informative) but on the strength of it I’d say Zurn was a born writer. Nothing to prove. Her skills at the service of story.

Too many perfect works are anaemic. Too many hot-blooded works are broken. Here is a marriage of form and content so flawless it could only have come from a lifetime of practice. A dream-bullet to the head, a mindflash, a cry for help, Dark Spring is as real as fiction gets.

Translators from the German, I eagerly await the rest.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Finished Reading
Finished Reading
June 6, 2012 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

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message 1: by Stephen (new) - added it

Stephen P Ben: wonderful description of all the elements coming together in so natural a way. Reading a writer born and gifted this way will be one of those rare and memorable experiences. Thanks for how well your review was put together and bringing this book and writer to my attention.


message 2: by Ben (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Winch Aw shucks. Think nothing of it, Stephen. There are some pretty incisive reviews of this around already - take a look at Matthieu's and Eddie Watkins's. Or if I've already convinced you, get the book and see for yourself!


message 3: by Stephen (new) - added it

Stephen P Ben wrote: "Aw shucks. Think nothing of it, Stephen. There are some pretty incisive reviews of this around already - take a look at Matthieu's and Eddie Watkins's. Or if I've already convinced you, get the boo..."

There are a few reviews-read one above :) -that communicate the essence of the writing and book. It happens between the letters of the words. Dark Spring has just been ordered and already stretching and preparing for its quick sprint to the top of the tottering TBR list. These are the kind of reviews bringing news of this kind of writing that I look for-or wait patiently for. So, I truly do thank you Ben for your readerly tastes and writerly skills.


message 4: by Ben (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben Winch Actually I know what you mean re "between the letters of the words". Sometimes it's the less articulate reviews I trust the most - the instinct of the reader speaking rather than the intellect. Not that I'm inarticulate in the above, but I had feared it was mostly hyperbole. It's an easy book to describe superficially, but very hard to grasp what's so good about it.


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