Always the Love of Someone

Huw Lawrence, Alcemi/Dufour, $17.95 trade paper (158p) ISBN 978-0-9555272-9-6
Shifting relationships, often triggered by an arrival or a departure, are at the heart of Lawrence's debut collection of 15 stories. In "Keeping On," narrator Graham has a rewarding encounter with a courtly vagrant who appears on his doorstep. "Noi" is an eager young woman from Bangkok, visiting Wales on a limited visa, who shakes up the lives of a sedate local couple. The title story follows a settled, middle-aged husband as he reflects on past loves at a resort where he's vacationing without his wife—until a surprise visitor appears. Lawrence writes in strong, direct sentences, and his stories are built around scenes linked by descriptive or contemplative prose. The similarity of shape, pace, and length diminishes the stories in juxtaposition: 10 to 12 pages with a plot that builds to a moment of revelation, a takeaway for the reader that, however insightful or well earned, becomes predictable over the breadth of the collection. Lawrence is a robust yarn spinner in the classic mold, however, with an impressive ability to delineate character with economy and apt detail and to energetically draw in the reader. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
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