Why I love it
Imagine a life without light, without computers or iPhones or screens of any kind, without lamps or ceiling lights or bedside reading lights, without daylight, without candles, without moonlight, without even enough light to make out the edges of furniture after you'd created a tomb by which to block out the most minute slices of light. Because even a hint of light, any kind of light, feels like a blowtorch held against your skin, you banish every wisp of it. Could you survive that? How long before you went mad?
Anna Lyndsey's haunting and lyrically gorgeous narrative imagines just that scenario. Except that it is not an imagining; it is real life, a nightmare that she lives with every day. Lyndsey's extreme light sensitivity, caused by an unknown culprit, goes from nonexistent to annoying to bad to worse, as she falls down a rabbit hole of light-blocking clothing (velvet and high-quality black felt are best) and endless black days of listening to audiobooks. Even eating in a light just bright enough to make out the food on her plate is an excruciating experience.
As unreal as her story seems, as heartbreaking and terrifying as her disease is, Lyndsey's story is filled with moments of poignant and hopeful joy. She invents games that can be played in the dark, becomes inventively resourceful, and finds beauty in the things that most of us rarely notice anymore. In a rare moment of remission, she stands outside in a rain storm and glories in the mere fact of nature being nature.
Throughout, her relationship with her boyfriend Pete is a constant. Pete, as a photographer who is captivated by light, is juxtaposed with Anna, and the truly heartbreaking moments of Anna's memoir are those when she wonders if she is trapping him, handcuffing him to a half-lived life with her, because he is too much of a good guy to end it.
Anna Lyndsey's memoir opens the door to not just a life without light, but really, instructions to a life lived in the dark. It is an unmissable love letter to the parts of our world that so often go unnoticed; her emotional ode to the quiet and small things will affect you well beyond the last page.