The Distant Light is a novella that lies in purgatory. Transgressing the boundaries of naturalism and lingering within the spectrum of occultism, it surprises. At first I believed it to be dystopian, but this was belied by ready use of a car and a populated village within a short drive of the isolated homestead of the narrator somewhere in the mountain woods of Italy. He is captivated by a distant light that shows at night from a location across a gorge, that is not easily accessible. Descriptive of the surroundings the first half of this novella is slow to evolve. There are clues that portend its conclusion.
“‘ Why is there all this evil undergrowth,” I wonder, ” that tries to engulf and smoother and suffocate the larger trees? Why all this wretched and desperate cruelty that disfigures everything? Why all this teeming of bodies striving to sap other bodies, sucking them with their thousands and thousands of rampaging roots and their tiny, wild suckers, to siphon off their chemical power, to create new plant forces capable of annihilating everything, of massacring everything. Where can I go where I won’t have to see any more of this slaughter, this blind and relentless torsion they call life?”
While there is an undercurrent of darkness, the distant light is spiritually compassionate, agnostic, and supernaturally more oriental than western derived. A young boy is the source of the light, but I will leave the rest of the story for you to discover.
The author is the recipient of numerous literary awards including for children’s literature. Archipelago books is a publisher of translated literature that is based in Brooklyn, New York.
A fair description of this work was made by Kirkus Reviews, “an unsettling and strangely tender novel.” It is an interesting short read.