Synopses & Reviews
Bakersfield, California, in the late 1950s is a dusty, quiet town too far from Los Angeles to share that city's energy yet close enough to Hollywood to fill its citizens with the kinds of dreams they discover in the darkness of the movie theater. For Teresa, a young, aspiring singer who works at a shoe store, dreams lie in the music her mother shared with her, plaintive songs of love and longing. In Dan Watson, the most desirable young man in Bakersfield, she believes she has found someone to help her realize those dreams.
When a famous actress arrives from Hollywood with a great and already legendary director, local gossip about Teresa and Dan gives way to speculation about the celebrated visitors, there to work on what will become an iconic, groundbreaking film of madness and murder at a roadside motel. No one anticipates how the ill-fated love affair between Dan and Teresa will soon rival anything the director could ever put on the screen.
This thoroughly original work is intense and fascinating in its juxtapositions of tenderness and menace, violence and regret, played out in a town on the brink of change.
“‘I want to remind readers that books are better at haunting us than movies are, Mun~oz has said of his ambitions for What You see in the Dark. ‘Haunting is only the beginning of what his fine debut novel accomplishes. [It] strikes emotional chords so deep and with such precision, it almost makes you believe youve discovered a new art form.” —The Austin Chronicle
“The making of Alfred Hitchcocks Psycho would seem out of place in a serious literary novel about small-town California . . . [But] Manuel Mun~oz pulls off this strange juxtaposition with stunning success . . . An audacious debut novel.” —The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Eerily cinematic.” —O: The Oprah Magazine
“One of the cleverest suspense conceits Ive encountered in a long time: two young lovers become entwined in a doomed affair, while, at the same time, Hitchcock and his minions begin setting up their equipment in sleepy bakersfield . . . This atmospheric tale of twisted minds and small-town murder wouldve put a demented gleam in The Masters eye.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR.org
“[A] stellar first novel . . . with a subtlety worthy of Hitchcock himself.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
The long-awaited first novel by the award-winning author of two impressive story collections explores the sinister side of desire in Bakersfield, California, circa 1959, when a famous director arrives to scout locations for a film about madness and murder at a roadside motel. Unfolding in much the same way that Hitchcock made Psycho—frame by frame, in pans, zooms, and close-ups—Mun~ozs re-creation of a vanished era takes the reader into places no camera can go, venturing into the characters private thoughts, petty jealousies, and unrealized dreams. The result is a work of stunning originality.
About the Author
Manuel Mun~ozs short story collection, The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue, was a finalist for the Frank OConnor International Short Story Award. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship and the prestigious Whiting Award, and is currently teaching creative writing at the University of Arizona in Tucson.