This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers
Known for immersion journalism that is more immersed than most people are willing to go, and for a prose style that is somehow both fierce and soulful, Jeff Sharlet dives deep into the darkness around us and awaiting us. This work began when his father had a heart attack; two years later, Jeff, still in his forties, had a heart attack of his own. In the grip of writerly self-doubt, Jeff turned to images, taking snapshots and posting them on Instagram, writing short, true stories that bloomed into documentary. During those two years, he spent a lot of time on the road: meeting strangers working night shifts as he drove through the mountains to see his father; exploring the life and death of Charley Keunang, a once-aspiring actor shot by the police on LA's Skid Row; documenting gay pride amidst the violent homophobia of Putin's Russia; passing time with homeless teen addicts in Dublin; and accompanying a lonely woman, whose only friend was a houseplant, on shopping trips. Early readers have called this book incantatory, the voice prophetic, in James Agee's tradition of looking at the reality of American lives. Defined by insomnia and late-night driving and the companionship of other darkness-dwellers--night bakers and last-call drinkers, frightened people and frightening people, the homeless, the lost (or merely disoriented), and other people on the margins-- This Brilliant Darkness erases the boundaries between author, subject, and reader to ask: how do people live with suffering?