Inside 'Unreal City' by DJ Bryant
Bryant's five story collection explores fragmented relationships through the eyes of fractured people, chance encounters at inappropriate times and characters trying to navigate the rough waters of life, love and hate. An interview with DJ can be found here that talks in large part of about the creation of the book.
Crafted carefully over the course of a decade through periods of personal turmoil, the five stories of Unreal City are explorations of emotion: the bad, the weird and the truly ugly. People are not perfect creatures. They make mistakes, they hurt those who they love, they think they love those who harm them and it's fully within their nature to make these mistakes over and over. Bryant's characters are easy to identify with soon after their introductions, regardless of how little background is provided. You can sympathize with them in their drastic situations, while the stories that follow can sway your feelings.
Evelyn Dalton-Hoyt throws you in the middle of a dangerously destructive relationship. The characters constantly put themselves and each other directly in harm's way trying to understand how they got to where they are, both of them so unhappy that you can't see a resolution. What is framed initially as a story where you sympathize with the husband over his mistreatment emotionally by his wife is quickly turned around when you realize his methods and plans of revenge. Throughout it's twists and turns, you hope that both characters will make it out alive.
The Yellowknife Retrospective is a psychedelic romp through an artist's career: past and future. Objet D'Art explores one woman's life as a muse to one artist and an obsession to another. Echoes to Eternity is a mind-bender with a twisting narrative leaving you questioning who occupies which roles in a mysterious love triangle. Emordana is a surreal sci-fi piece where the spectacle of the stage is felt on the page.
Bryant's twisting and thrilling narratives are compelling but the art on the page is what brings these characters and their stories to life. Gorgeous linework in itself is guided with cinematic viewpoints throughout the story and an impressive, dizzying book design. Characters emotions read true through sadness, anger and anguish while the world they live in is beautiful while represented truly in it's grit and realism.
It would be easy to compare such beautiful art to other titans of the genre but combined with Bryant's carefully crafted explorations of relationships, this book completely stands separate from the pack. Those left confused by the open ended nature of the storytelling might not realize how much Bryant is leaving up to you to fill in the blanks. A truly special debut by an incredibly talented creator.