So Much Smoke I Grady Harp I

January 16, 2016

Find helpful customer reviews and review ratings for So Much Smoke at honest and unbiased product reviews from our users.

Félix Calvino deserves a much wider audience here in the United States. His first collection of short stories gathered under the title A HATFUL OF CHERRIES were piquant brief morsels that ranged from a few pages to extended stories and every story manages to paint imagery and place and character so clearly with the most economical style that each appears like a flashback of thought in every reader's memory bank.

Calvino was born in Galicia and spent his childhood on a farm not unlike those scenes he so frequently recalls in these stories. Under the reign of General Franco, Calvino fled to England to study and work and eventually migrated to Australia where he currently lives and writes his magical prose. From these various regions Calvino gathers the fodder for his tales - stories that take place in Spain and in Australia with settings that range from dealing with the earth as a child to discovering love as a youth to encountering the realities of small community prejudices to simply celebrating the aspects of the very young to the very aged characters he describes so well.

Calvino's writing style is the opposite of florid. With a few brief sentences on a few pages he is able to bring the reader into the focal point of his stories that usually take a quiet twist at the end, a technique that makes reading a collection of short stories more like reading a full length novel, so engrossed is the reader in his ability to capture attention and imagination. Not that his writing is without color: for instance, in the story ‘They Are Only Dreams’ he writes ‘Mama, I had a dream last night,’ the girl says. ‘It was about a man in bed. He had a white beard. His mouth was open and there was a rattling sound coming from his throat. After he stopped rattling, I heard women crying loudly.’ He knows well how to speak of love, of desire, of tragedy and of humor and is equally at home with each of these and other emotions. The other stories in this collection include ‘The Hen’, ‘What Do You Know About Your Friends?’ ‘The Road’, ‘The Gypsies’, ‘So Much Smoke’, The Smile’, ‘The Sleepwalker’, ‘The Dream Girl’, ‘Kneading the Dough’ and ‘The Valley of Butterflies’.

Some astute publisher should capture the talents of this Spanish Australian writer. He deserves center stage in the arena of authors who have mastered the art of writing short stories as well as his very fine novel ‘Alfonso’. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, January 17