Young Love & Other Stories I Amazon I Grady Harp


January 26, 2022

Grady Harp

'Gossipers need to feed their addictions'

Félix Calvino deserves a much wider audience here in the United States. His novel ALFONSO proved his mettle for extending a thought into a full-length novel. Yet 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 managed 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. Furthering his appreciation for the art of short stories, he has published SO MUCH SMOKE, and now YOUNG LOVE & OTHER STORIES, proving he is a master craftsman!

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.

The stories in this collection are Sunday Lunch, Young Love, Knick-knacks, Abel’s Journey, The Beehives, and Shopping Trip. 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. Example, in the story ‘Sunday Lunch’ he writes ‘Manuel stood in the doorway of the kitchen and asked, “what are you cooking that smells so good?” “Stewed partridge with herbs and new potatoes.” Amadeo answered, without looking up from the kitchen bench where he was chopping parsley with a large knife. “Have you seen Avelina?” “I saw her a few days ago. She said she was making a cake to mark the occasion” “What occasion?” ‘She didn’t say.” Manual, Amadeo and Avelina were the three remaining inhabitants of the remote village of Carballo. The men were both seventy-seven, fragile, lean, and of average height…Avelina was seven years younger, short and slim…Their relationship, although they had lived and shared in all aspects of the village public life, had never been a close one.’ – We then discover the destiny of this tale as the core of ‘interconnected stories that call up the ghosts of the past half-century for the three survivors of a lively, colourful world that had no notion of how soon it was to disappear.’

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. Very highly recommended. 
Grady Harp, January 22