Shelf Awareness for Readers Review: Love Among the Particles: Stories, by Norman Lock

My review of Norman Lock‘s story collection Love Among the Particles (Bellevue Literary Press, $14.95, paperback, 9781934137642) was published in the current Shelf Awareness for Readers.

I loved this collection.  Kirkus gave it a starred review, and it was an Atlantic Wire Spring Book Preview Recommendation.  Bookslut called Lock “our finest modern fabulist”; Kate Bernheimer hailed him as a writer “whose narrative soul sings fairy tales, whose language is glass.”  (That latter description is itself a sentence worth celebrating.)  I loved being seduced by the story form, executed perfectly with perfect language, into a fabulous world where we see ourselves in thrall of what we might otherwise, with some normal measure of objectivity, view with ambivalence.  Lock’s genius is that he always recognizes the humanity of his characters and thus, of his readers.

Here’s the review in its entirety:

Norman Lock is one of the best writers you’ve never heard of, but that could change with Love Among the Particles, a collection of stories that combines absurdist elements and avant-garde fiction with conventional storytelling to satirize our romance with devices and our penchant for confusing technology with living.

The worlds in these stories are nearly recognizable, familiar but disguised by Lock’s fabulist instincts. The first story, “A Monster in Winter,” adopts flawless Edwardian language to tell the story of an ambitious journalist’s efforts to exploit Mr. Hyde, with horrifying consequences. In the title story, with a nod to Kafka’s Metamorphosis, a man dematerializes, becoming nothing more than particles in a digital space alongside data bits, longing for true love as he observes the world happen around him. 

Lock’s writing is beautiful, with clean, clear, perfect sentences. He might delight in pyrotechnics but they are never self-indulgent; his language and imagination are always in service of the story. Each story feels total, complete, seducing the reader with language and narrative into a fully realized alternative world to say something new about our own. 

Philip Roth invited a young Lock to his writing seminar and helped launch a career that has included recognition from George Plimpton at the Paris Review and the publication of four novels and hundreds of short stories and plays. Love Among the Particles is topical, astonishing and provocative–and should help Lock reach his widest audience yet.  

Discover:  A masterful collection of short fiction by a writer discovered by Philip Roth who transcends his roots in experimental fiction and reveals a perfect ear for language.

Publisher Bellevue Literary Press also published Paul Harding’s Pulitzer-prize winning Tinkers. (Michele Filgate is responsible for bringing it to their attention – thanks, Michele!)   

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