A Hatful of Cherries

November 25, 2016


What a delight to discover Felix Calvino's short story collection, A Hatful of Cherries. Originally from Galacia in the northwest of Spain, Felix grew up on a farm but fled his homeland to avoid military service under General Franco. His eclectic mix of stories are inspired either by his memories of his childhood in that country, and the political, economic and cultural difficulties of the time, or by his experience as an immigrant to Australia in the sixties, and his subsequent life in this country.

Felix writes in a style that is spare, sparse and simple. He depicts everyday actions and situations with an experienced eye for detail and nuance. His descriptions of characters and of the weather and the landscape are concise and meticulous. The tension in each of his stories is taut; he engages the reader on a tightly held line, and reels us in slowly but deliberately to the resolution. 

Each story is self-contained and complete, but all are open-ended - there remains a question, a possibility of further thought, at the conclusion of each. 

I love the terrible inevitability of Basilio, the misunderstanding of Detour, the sharp childhood memories of The Pocketknife, the humour of An Old Sheep, the poignancy of A Hatful of Cherries, the playful familiarity and mirth of The Laundry Incident, the hopefulness of The Bride, the gritty depiction of addiction in Restless Hands, the imagination of Ghosts on the Beach, and the melancholy of Silvia, and of Unfinished Thoughts. This is a highly readable and appealing compilation that is moving, empathetic and engaging. Thank-you Melissa Ashley for introducing us.