Dan Mazzacane’s review of former The Masters Review reader Russell Helms’ novel, Fade, is our second book review in May! “This is what Helms does best,” Mazzacane writes: “illustrating how depression seeps into a person’s bones, slowly, without breaking them.”
There is a careful subtlety to the emotional stakes in Fade. Depression lurks in every facet of the novel. Michael, a divorced father of two, struggles to find meaning in a life surrounded by unwashed clothes, regimented pills, and constant drinking. After Anna commits suicide, her mother, Mandy, haunts her daughter’s bedroom, keeping Anna’s phone in hopes of talking to her old friends. When Michael proposes the impossible, that he will bring Anna back to life, he threatens to upend what little closure Mandy has found. She cannot see Anna’s ghost, and the devastation at hand should Michael fail, builds each time they interact, until it’s almost impossible to ignore. Mandy is volatile, her speech cautious, a moment away from tears, spiraling further each time Anna is mentioned. This is what Helms does best: illustrating how depression seeps into a person’s bones, slowly, without breaking them.