A review by kell_xavi
A Spectral Hue, by Craig Laurance Gidney


Synaesthesia and ekphrasis come together with the uniquely devastating history of Black America in this novel. The mimetic impulse, a godly or otherworldly inspiration, is present in the text, in variations on haunting, worship, and obsession. Gidney’s writing is sometimes intoxicating. He writes layers of the story, dedicated to his characters and the expression of them within place and through craft.

The story was weighted unevenly. Gidney paints backwards and forwards across the lives of Iris, Lincoln, Xavier, and Fuchsia, more a preface to the plot than immersed in it—for the whole book, bursts of revelation are set against a steady, illustrative but unexciting buildup. There is an eventuality, but it’s fleeting, paint slathered on in ecstasy that never quite sets.

I saw notes of Freshwater and Paradise Rot in A Spectral Hue. It’s so much a book about art, about muse (I saw Greek visions of art throughout the text), inspiration; but also, intergenerational understandings of history, culture, belonging; Black and queer ways of sensing and being; confusion, clarity, and solace.