ISBN (13): 978-1941462010
Kate Wyer’s Black Krim is the deceptively simple story of a girl who meets a boy. Except in this version, that boy is a retired mailman who shows up at her house in the early hours of the morning, running barefoot in the snow, to “begin a new existence among strange faces and scenes” (160). Martin, the boy (or should I say man), partakes in the wonder that envelops everyone—the curiosity and the excitement of just leaving everything behind. Corbina, the girl who meets the boy, finds him and brings him into her home without question. And they create a life, not together, but with each other’s existence. Black Krim is their story but with their story Wyer reaches out to all of us with her clear and simple truths about what it means to live and love in this world where a man can go missing and no one comes looking for him.
It is a rare and delightful surprise to find a novella like Black Krim, to see distinct and detached lives converge. At first, the characters may seem too distant, separated from the rituals and emotions that define us as human. But it will not be long before you see that these characters possess the exact thing that we all, perhaps unknowingly, crave—a life of no pretense, where we are pared down and pulled “in severely… rid of all that is familiar and once thought of as necessary” (134). We are left to ourselves, left to create our own path.
Corbina has carved out a comfortable life for herself, living in the middle of nowhere with two dogs as her only company and working in the green houses, solitary except for the plants. It is one devoid of any surprises, one that is reliable and accountable. She does not need others, or at least she never thought she did. Until Martin walks through her door. She likes the sounds of movement. She revels in cooking for two. “There is some part of me that enjoys this tension, that enjoys the intrusion of his company. It’s a private thrill in my quiet life” (21). Black Krim practically demands that we take a step back from the life that we have created, that we fill our lungs with new air, that we do something unexpected.
Black Krim is a crushingly beautiful novella, reminding every one of us that the people we meet, that the strangers we glimpse from the corner of our eye, have the potential to change the course of our lives—if we give them a chance, if we give ourselves a chance. We are reminded that we have a few precious years on this Earth, to feel life overflow: “It is all of it too much, and then it becomes nothing. A body, a man, a life. All of it nothing at all” (181). Do not do what is expected. Do not sit by and wonder. Go out. Wander. Find something that makes your eyes go wide. That makes you cry. Find the beauty in the uncontrolled, in the unfamiliar and the wild where “the fruit is both bitter and sweet. [Where] there are seeds, many of them, and they push out of the fruit…[where] there is a riot of movement outward and a celebration of excess” (121-2). But my words can only begin to convey the magic bursting at the seams in Black Krim so my last words are these: Go and experience it for yourself.