Review | Black | Corey Cummings

This is the story of Blake and Cora May who meet by chance in a grocery store. In many ways Black by Corey Cummings is a straightforward love story where things that have happened in the past impact on what is going on in the present. The "Black" of the title is the name of the dog belonging to one of the main characters and he is as much a part of the story as any of the human animals. The story line is plausible and engaging and the characters are well imagined and real.

Two aspects of the writing make this novel really interesting. First, although otherwise well punctuated, the author has chosen to write dialogue without using inverted commas. This jumps off the opening pages and initially I thought this was typographical errors on a huge scale until I realised that apart from the missing inverted commas the writing was very well constructed and presented. (Someone recently told me that James Joyce used this trick so I suppose this author is following in the footsteps of greatness). Once I'd got over my prejudice that demands correct punctuation, I found that it didn't really matter; the writing made just as much sense as if the inverted commas had been there. The consequence is that you really focus on the dialogue.

The other interesting aspect is the way view points keep shifting; there are five main characters in this novel and the story is moved along from the differing perspectives of these characters. This works very well and all the components fit together to make a cohesive whole.

The author Corey Cummings is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin according to the author's details and the winner of prizes there and at the start of the novel he thanks everyone in the undergrad. writing programme for their support so I presume this novel is a product of his writing course. Well it certainly worked: a relatively mundane story is transformed into something lively, original and worth reading by breaking some rules and taking some risks.