Review: Love Among the Particles: Stories by Norman Lock
Since I was a little girl, books have guided my search for kindred spirits and truth. Through the years, I’ve found entertainment and intellectual engagement within books’ pages, but once in a harvest moon I find in them what I have been looking for all along: a story that reminds me of truths I did not realize I have forgotten. When I picked up Norman Lock’s collection of stories, Love Among the Particles, I knew I was about to step once more onto a street paved by the deep longings of the soul.
Poetic in his prose, Lock carries the reader on the wing of the dream he’s created. Whether it is the monster Hyde’s redemption or Henry James’s journey to la belle epoque, Lock’s language evokes a comforting sense of nostalgia. A questioning narrative voice that longs for understanding is wed with repetitious imagery, seamlessly sewing the collection of short stories into a cohesive whole.
Lock effortlessly blurs the edges of where fiction ends and reality begins. There is no doubt that strong characters and moving plots have become a vital part of my own life experience, and Lock plays with this notion as Mr. Hyde and Huckleberry Finn walk out of their constructed worlds and into ours. But what is reality, anyway? In “The Brothers Ascend,” Jim (fresh off the raft with Huck in Dayton, Ohio) reasons, “If one is prepared to take the long view, there is no difference between fact and fiction. All of us are fictions. We make each other up—we make ourselves up.” We become the characters we choose to be by how we present ourselves to the world.
So much of what we believe to be ‘concrete reality’ is actually dependent upon our own perceptions. In my favorite selection, “Ideas of Space,” a man who has lived his whole life in the forest ventures out onto the plain because he no longer wants his sight to be bound by what is directly in front of him, caged by trees. His unexpected enlightenment brings him across the alien plain to meet a painter, a surveyor, and a historian who all experience and dream of space in fundamentally different ways. He realizes “that space is subjugated to each person. That it is only a screen on which the magic lantern of our thoughts casts the images of our desires.”
Each tale is set in a brightly descriptive world filled with levity and melancholy, leading us through the epistemological questions that inhabit our dreamings: the passage of time, our inability to control our passions, the fundamental need for human connection, and the mystery of dreams. At times, the author enters into his own fiction, reemphasizing the lack of distinction between dreams, perception, and the stories we’ve read as children—stories that now form much of our identities as they grow beneath the surface with a life of their own.
Norman Lock has created a masterpiece containing everything I could want from a great read. Deeply thought provoking, filled to the brim with wit, and imaginative beyond belief, Love Among the Particles is a book for all who have ever dreamed and long to do so again.
Love Among the Particles
May 14, 2013
Trade Paperback Original
* An Atlantic Wire Spring Book Preview Recommendation
Posted: Apr 25, 2013
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