Krakow

Sean Akerman

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction -

Har­vard Square Edi­tions (JAN­UARY) Soft­cover $22.95 (114pp) 978-1-941861-57-8

Krakow re­minds its au­di­ence that even if love ends, the marks it leaves are in­deli­ble.

Krakow, a novella by Sean Akerman, draws on journaling fads and the fail­ures of cou­ples coun­sel­ing to ex­plore the be­gin­ning and end of love in the outer reaches of con­tem­po­rary Brook­lyn.

A first-per­son pro­logue sets up the story to fol­low. Two jour­nals are dis­cov­ered in an oth­er­wise empty apart­ment. One was writ­ten by a man, the other by a woman. Re­al­iz­ing that they make up two sides of the same breakup story, the nar­ra­tor quickly hands the jour­nals over to his au­di­ence.

The man’s ac­count comes first. It’s a risky in­tro­duc­tion, as his jour­nal is less ac­ces­si­ble. He ram­bles, self-in­dulges, and has a stream-of-con­scious­ness style. He fo­cuses on his feel­ings of grief and long­ing, as well as his de­pres­sion and lack of em­ploy­ment.

Scenes are de­tailed but of­ten take place in un­clear times. Stylis­ti­cally, his ac­count is rem­i­nis­cent of 1960s black-and-white art films, with blurred back­grounds and many close­ups; prose sub­tly sug­gests that he is in­ca­pable of hon­esty.

Fol­low­ing his ac­count and tak­ing up the same amount of room comes the woman’s jour­nal. Un­like her for­mer lover, she seems grounded in re­al­ity. She has a job and a life pop­u­lated by fam­ily and friends. Her part­ner’s life and for­mer re­la­tion­ships emerge more clearly in her ac­count than they do in his own telling, so that pre­vi­ous in­ci­dents are given con­text. The ques­tions raised but never an­swered in the first jour­nal are il­lu­mi­nated here.

The woman’s jour­nal con­veys pain and a lack of self-pity, mak­ing it the more re­li­able ver­sion of their af­fair. But ever present is the re­al­ity that these are two ver­sions of the same story, told by the only two peo­ple who were there.

Not only will the au­di­ence never know ex­actly what went wrong, but it’s likely that dif­fer­ent read­ers will read the story in dif­fer­ent ways, depend­ing on their own ex­pe­ri­ences.

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