As Luck Would Have It

Samuel Lock, Author
Samuel Lock, Author Random House (UK) $21.25 (201p) ISBN 978-0-224-04251-2
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Set in London in the 1950s, this first novel by a 70-year-old painter, script writer and stage designer seems born of all the wisdom and experience that must have preceded it. So patiently written that its discreetly rendered moments transcend the margins of its methodical chapters, it tells the story of Richard, an orphan who haltingly relates the evolution of his curious adulthood and his tenacious desire to learn how to love. A rather secretive but unapologetic homosexual whose boyhood intimacies were limited by the institutional setting in which he was raised, Richard finds himself sharing his life with Chuck and George, two men whose disturbing incapacity to accommodate their own true natures opens the way for Richard's quest for selfhood. Lock's prose is clear, but there's always an air of mystery, so that even the most antically demonstrative dramas are suffused with smoky uncertainty. A surprise, coincidental ending might have marred the subtle integrity of this novel, but Lock is so cunning, and his inclusion of a novel within the novel so sly, that instead of falling flat, Richard's tale takes on new reflective dimensions. (Dec.)
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