Hot Off the Presses scours the internet for newly published debut books from unknown authors, and saves everyone else the trouble of actually reading books to find out if they’re good or not. New posts every Tuesday. This is meant for entertainment purposes only, not serious consumer advice. And there will be spoilers.
Let me just take a moment to explain the mental relief given to me by Kindle Unlimited, and why it is the best money I’ve ever spent. Before I bit the bullet and gave Jeff Bezos some money that he’ll use to buy space slaves or something, my typical experience on the Kindle store went something like this: “Oh, this one is hastily translated from Tamil and has an MS Paint cover? Goodbye, little four dollars! Goodbye forever! I’m sorry you didn’t get to buy any food or shelter, but I will always remember you!” But now? Now I’m swiping right on short stories about “erotic vegetable insertion,” because life is too short not to, and it can only get shorter the more power I give to Jeff Bezos.
And once again, the world of random self published novels has not disappointed me. I asked for something I haven’t seen before, and it plopped this into my lap like a cat that found a finger in the backyard. Conversations N The Dark Part I is a speedrun-of-real-life simulator by Tmonee’, a dense web of personal conflict, desperation, and loss. Below I have summarized each chapter and sorted them in random order, so you can try to guess how they are arranged in the book. Also, I changed the names to try and minimize spoilers.
Connor asks Kelli if her children are his children. Connor is pleased with the answer, though Kelli also recounts the abuse they have suffered at Tyffanie’s hands.
Kelli and Abbey talk about a person named G-spot.
Connor is only engaged to Tyffanie because he thinks she is carrying his child, but his true love is Kelli. He gives her a secret mansion next to IKEA.
At the happy reunion, Kelli is pregnant again, but terrified when she learns that Tyffanie has impersonated a nurse.
Tyffanie and Kelli ruin Abbey’s celebratory promotion dinner by fighting over paternity and lap dances.
Abbey does a very aggressive Live about Pizza Hut.
Tyffanie shoots Connor.
Abbey has no actionable advice for her brother Connor.
Kelli is a terrible mother, who has been betrayed by Connor.
Tyffanie is not remorseful, and hides from the police in her parents’ house. They’re not into it.
Kelli, Abbey, and all their kids congregate at the hospital.
Connor asks Kelli if she has had children with G-spot.
Tyffanie also wants Connor, even though she didn’t support him while he was in prison, so she is faking a pregnancy until she can become pregnant for real.
There is something about the structure and characters of Conversations N The Dark that feels very different from the sort of story telling I usually see. The way quotidian aspects of the characters’ lives are combined with over the top twists and reveals feels like a Greek tragedy. Everybody acts like the ancient Greeks were a bunch of pretentious Rick and Morty fans who talked about trolley problem solutions all day on their white marble bean bag chairs or something. But in reality they were nasty boys and girls who loved nothing more than a good high school beef. Most of Sophocles’ oeuvre could be an episode of Maury and no one would notice. Stories like this one humanize their subjects by taking their problems and their emotional turmoil seriously, without resorting to a more noble motivation than their desire to be happy and lead a good life.
“You hurting my feelings and making my dick hard at the same time.”
And it’s a whirlwind. There is a genre out there called “insta-love,” where instead of doing all the legwork of making the reader care about the characters and their struggles before the meet-cute, or charting out a long will-they-won’t-they, you just smash the two leads together like chocolate and peanut butter or college students and Chipotle. In the same vein, this book wastes no time building up to the main crisis. It almost feels like stealing glimpses of the characters’ lives through a series of windows. Only less perverted. OK, maybe not.
That said, this was not an easy read. And for once, it’s not because ignorant old me reading a book written in a Black vernacular involves kanji charts, one of those flippable chalk boards, and a montage. No, the language here is very accessible, just not the formatting. For the record, I am not a language snob. I don’t care how many times Tmonee’ says “escape goat” or “multimillionaire company.” What I am asking for is paragraph breaks. Quotation marks, indications of the passage of time, indications of who is speaking. Reading Conversations N The Dark was like one of those Darren Aronofsky movies that feel like they were edited on a woodchipper. Everything is in one giant pile of words marked “book,” and if you can’t figure out what’s happening, then you don’t deserve it you stupid pleb.
“That’s right [redacted] you deserve the ass whooping that you are about to get when we find you.”
Conversations N The Dark is obviously a labor of love. Tmonee’ apparently spent nearly a decade perfecting her vision, the whole time working under the constant noise of living inside the Detroit airport. This is the sort of book I love to see. Somebody wanted to write a book, so they did. They didn’t follow any rules, or listen to anybody, or take a class. Screw that, Dad. They just did what they wanted. I often end these reviews with a plug for self publishing in general, but this is exactly why I say things like that. Unfortunately this gem is ten dollars on Kindle, so it might be a Kindle Unlimited-only sort of indulgence, especially considering the length. Ostensibly this is Part 1, with a heavy implication that Reign may be the focus of the story arc as a whole, so maybe some day we’ll get a cheaper box set.
I sat through another one of Madeline’s dumb reviews, so now you have to, too.Tweet