This Darksome Burn, a novella, is available from Queen’s Ferry Press.
From the publisher:
Sprung from the first line of a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, This Darksome Burn is a fierce rendition of our feeble attempts to control nature’s obstinate force. Indeed, for one man, toughness and tenacity prove no match for the unpredictable wilderness of the shadowing Siskiyou Mountains or his own bereft emotional frontier. Coursing through Luke’s life, sweeping away emotional touchstones and spiritual ballasts, the prophetic stream in Nick Ripatrazone’s grim novella comes “roaring down” and wends its devious way into the reader’s psyche, where it punishes and pardons.
*Named a “great new read” by High Country News.
*Recommended by The American Conservative’s literary newsletter, Prufrock.
*The Collagist: “This Darksome Burn is a sparse, grim novella, a death-haunted meditation on the strong grip of the past and inevitability of nature . . . a journey across the River Styx played out in the rugged country between California and Oregon . . . “A lean and horrific tale, beautifully told.”
*HTMLGIANT: “The wilderness is This Darksome Burn’s setting, as billed. But the really valuable work of the novella is in the juxtaposition between Luke’s “toughness and tenacity” and something less wild . . . the demands of a modern world on a man who has most of his life relied on reticence and grit, virtues of a time that has gone.”
*New Jersey Herald: “The terrain of the book is wild. And the emotional boundaries of the characters’ minds prove to be just as volatile as the wilderness surrounding them. Written in the present tense, the novella builds tension and harbors an immediacy that propels the reader to its climactic finish.”
*Heavy Feather Review: “There is some fun to be had in theorizing This Darksome Burn through this last stanza: as a meditation on how hard it is to leave the wilderness, or rather on how the wilderness won’t leave its inhabitants, or how the wilderness is at its most savage when civilization runs feral. Maybe this wilderness reveals not Hopkins’ God, who finds—in His benevolence beyond our understanding—a place even for vorteces and weeds, but a wrathful or indifferent God, or no God at all.”
*The Small Press Book Review: “When characters face conflict the reader is not manipulated into a position of empathy or rage, but is invited to relate that conflict to the other more abstract ideas that Ripatrazone feeds into his prose. The family drama boils on the front burner while broader themes of nature and choice gently simmer on the back.”
*Shenandoah: “I would even liken reading This Darksome Burn to watching a film put together by an immensely skilled director, one who, with painstaking detail, captures exactly what he wants the viewer to see in each shot through his lens. I would recommend Nick Ripatrazone’s This Darksome Burn to any reader who appreciates being fully immersed in fiction . . . [Stands] out from anything else you’ll find on the shelves of your local bookstore.”
*American Book Review: “an ambitious, unflinching meditation on power and powerlessness.”
Shenandoah interviewed me about the novella.
Another interview at Speaking With Marvels.
At Necessary Fiction, my “Research Notes” on the novella.
My retrospective on the novella form, at The Millions.