Mar 9, 2010

Review: 'Always The Love of Someone' by Huw Lawrence

Bookmark and Share

Huw Lawrence's stories have three times won in the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition, have gained three Cinnamon Awards and a Bridport prize. He was runner up for the 2009 Tom Gallon prize. Born in Llanelli, he trained as a teacher in Swansea, continuing his education at Manchester and Cornell Universities. He spent several years doing a variety of labouring jobs in Manchester and the Ffestiniog area of north Wales and now lives in Aberystwyth.

Always For The Love of someone front cover detail

I remember reading somewhere that you should only read one short story a day. Short stories have a single central idea to convey and given that that thought is successfully implanted in the readers mind you should spend some time savouring it. Reading them consecutively only serves to negate or dilute the impact of these finely crafted gems. Whether there is any merit in this prescription really rather depends on the quality of the writing. In the course of ten pages or so there is no time for elaborate characterisation or intricate plotting. But the finest short story writers can take a single thought or situation and explore or exemplify it with such intensity that the end result is electrifying and the reader is left with a desire to ponder the subject matter further. Pondering takes time. Perhaps one a day is truly the well balanced way.

At any rate there is no doubt in this readers mind that 'Always The Love of Someone' is a collection to be savoured. The stories in this volume stopped me in my tracks several times and I felt compelled to share what I had read and discuss it with someone. Luckily my partner shares my literary tastes and pretty soon we were passing the book back and for and swapping recommendations. Theres nothing like enthusiasm shared.

This collection focuses on human relationships and ranges in tone from the whimsical to the semi-tragic. There is the story of the old lady in "Yellow Umbrella' who cannot understand a young boys ability to live for the moment. When she offers the lad, whose parents are 'itinerants', shelter from the rain he appals her by revealing that he has no permanent address and is being 'home schooled'. Their contrasting reactions to their environment and in particular to the days weather reveal a tragic lack of spontaneity and a profound pessimism in the old lady's character which has perhaps destined her to live alone. Then there is the tale of Alf whose lifelong dislike and fear of dogs evaporates in old age when he is prevailed upon to adopt a lurcher.

Throughout there are moments of profound introspection and equally revealing dialogue. In 'A Man And A Woman' a bachelor on a date is credited with making a simple discovery:- " The man's simple discovery had been to pause before speaking. A couple of seconds was enough to choose a better response than the one that leapt to mind, one that allowed dialogue, allowed the other's world to exist. Speech was not for you to be right. It was to find outcomes." In the closing story, 'Nothing is Happening Because There is a Point', a couple discuss their relationship and whether destiny played any part in it. The following rather incisive comment on logic stands out from this exchange:-"....Words can insist that other words following them have to be true, but logic doesn't bring about marriages, or there probably wouldn't be any."

There is much,much more to savour in this collection , which for the short story afficianado is a veritable feast of nectared sweets. Huw Lawrence's touch is masterful throughout and each story is as elegant as it is insightful. I will be filing this collection on my bookshelf next to Raymond Carver and John Cheever and returning to it often.

'Always The Love of Someone' will be published on 30 May 2010 and will be an AmeriCymru Book of the Month selection for June.

Reviewed by Ceri Shaw Email

Popular Posts