Monday, August 30, 2010

The Theory of Light and Matter by Andrew Porter (5 stars of 5)

I just finished reading The Theory of Light and Matter by Andrew Porter a few days ago.  This book won the Flannery O'Conner award for short fiction in 2007.  I rate this book 5 stars out of 5.  If I could, I would rate this 6 stars!  But that would be silly, like a coach yelling to his players, "Give me one hundred and ten percent!"  We all know that all we can give is one hundred percent; that is all we have.  Anyhoo...

The Theory of Light and Matter is a collection of ten short stories.  Each story is about relationship in suburbia.  None of the main characters are super rich or super poor.  Porter is writing about the middle class and the struggle they have with relationship and dissatisfaction with life.

What struck me the most about Porter was his writing.  He is an OUTSTANDING and BRILLIANT writer.  The writing is fluid and effortless.  If I may say, Porter is to short stories and Federer is to tennis or Beethoven is to music.  I was so impressed with Porter's writing.

I've tried to read short stories in the past and, for me, they have been very difficult.  The hardest part about reading short stories was the conclusion; I would get to the conclusion or resolution and I just wouldn't 'get it'.  Porter's stories are different.  As I got to the end of his stories, I would get lost in his word's and descriptions; I would get caught up in his characters; and when I got to the end, it would feel like a real resolution (unlike the confusing shorts that I've read in the past).  The interesting part for me was I didn't know why the endings were so satisfying.  This gave me a lot to think about and I think fiction that provokes thought is a very good thing.

At the beginning of some of the shorts, I felt a little tentative because I thought that it would become corny and cliche because of the subject matter.  Porter never went to the cliche.  He always wrote to develop character and story.

So, overall, the writing was brilliant and the pacing was perfect.  His characters, his stories...outstanding.  I couldn't recommend this book highly enough.  I rate this book a 5 stars out of 5.  Until the next time, keep reading Constant Reader...

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