Synopses & Reviews
It begins with an envelope. Twenty years old, maybe more, with the dust of the dead-letter office still clinging to the stained, fraying paper. It arrives in the mailbox of Lucy a proofreader and sometimes-photographer haunted by the face of a brother she left behind with the address of a vacant neighborhood lot barely legible on the front. Inside she finds only a photograph of a man she does not recognize, but whose face captivates her instantly. She hunts for him, feeling for blind answers in the boroughs of her soul and city. The details of her world of a neighborhood decaying and maimed in daylight, yet pulsing with some hidden life in dark; the shaded, shifting menace of shadow on the night sidewalk blur together through the fogged lens of her plastic camera, and the casual banter of summer afternoons evaporates into the hiss of something missing, something lost and formless that she must return.
The picture ultimately leads Lucy across the darkened city, from the canal slicing through her neighborhood over the rivers at the city limits, its mystery resolving into vivid, caustic focus in the books concluding scenes. Follow Me Down owns moments both wondrous in their sympathy and wild in their desolation, as Stark culls from the crumbling city setting characters mercurial and impassable, joyous and redemptive.
"Stark's imaginative debut tells the story of a melancholy young woman who draws herself into a mystery everyone else in her crumbling neighborhood would rather avoid. Haunted by the guilt of abandoning her drug-addicted brother, Lucy has fled to a vague but rough part of New York City where, the only white girl around, she wanders aimlessly with an old plastic camera, observing and sometimes documenting her neighbors' lives: a mother arguing on her cellphone at the playground, a drug dealer at work, corner boys 'harmonizing on someone's stoop.' But after several months as spectator, Lucy finally becomes an actor in an urban drama after she finds in her mailbox an anonymous letter addressed to 'Hombre Cinco,' along with an old photograph of a man she's never seen before. Filled with a sense of purpose, Lucy attempts to uncover his identity, but the more people Lucy connects with and the more she learns about the case, the more she confirms her status as an outsider. Lucy's story is dotted with quick urban-anthropological observations and marked by a wistful (if sometimes melodramatic) tone, and her decision to close the story in such an open-ended way will leave readers either illuminated or infuriated. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
After reading Kio Starks Follow Me Down, a distant, half melancholic feeling lingers, a question unanswered that beats in the back of the head for days. Stark's evocative writing is terse, tough, poetic, and at times profound.Shannon Burke, author of Black Flies
Kio Stark reads people and their streets the way an animal reads the forest. For her, precision and heartbreak are two sides of the same coin. And she spends language carefully, as if she kept it in a coffee canshe makes it last.Luc Sante