I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins
I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness blurs the lines of fiction, non-fiction, what we leave behind and what travels with us
It starts with a multiple-choice questionnaire. Since my baby was born, it reads, I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things. a) As much as I ever did. b) Not quite as much now. c) Not so much now. d) Not at all. Postpartum depression doesn’t seem like it would be full of laughs, and yet I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness pulls it from its toothy grip (where the teeth are, let’s leave to the imagination).
We follow Claire, who leaves behind her husband and baby daughter for a speaking engagement in Reno. What begins as a temporary escape turns to a romp, a dose of freedom and abandon, and in turn veers into a descent into years gone by. In the Mojave Desert, her past waits around every turn, with loss, exes and cults aplenty; unable to change what has been, instead it considers how to move forward.
A blurring of the lines of fiction, non-fiction, what we leave behind and what travels with us in these fragments of thought, letters and memoir from a wider cast: there’s a lot within the erratic format to parse. For some this will unfurl thrillingly, elsewhere it may feel disconnected and a bit of work. There’s a palpable suffering and darkness often, a brittleness; there’s also a tenderness, and a lot of laughs to be pulled from its page. A book of bite.