Young Love & Other Stories I Jill Lindquist I ABC Book Club

 January 10, 2022

Young Love &and Other Stories

Jill Lindquist

One of my favourite Australian writers, Félix Calvino, has produced another stunning collection of stories, Young Love & other Stories (Arcadia) which takes the reader into the heart of his homeland in Galicia, Spain, revealing the essence of his rural upbringing and sharing stories of life and love in all its various forms. As in Calvino’s other collections, the stories are atmospheric and deceptively simple.  I’ll provide my impressions of just two:

The first story ‘Sunday Lunch’ describes a barren, remote Galician village, once a bustling community but now silent and decaying and with only two men and a woman the surviving residents.  The three elderly friends meet for lunch each Sunday. It is their way of checking in on each other and a time to share stories of the past. When they find the woman, Avelina, dead, the two men must deal with the process of giving her a respectful send off. They are in shock and ill-prepared. Their heartbreak, difficulty and frustration at dealing with the body of their friend is palpable.  There is also the unspoken question that with only the two of them remaining, which would die first and leave the other alone to face the impossible burden of doing all that the two together could barely manage for Avelina?

The title story ‘Young Love’  is a sensitive portrayal of a boy, Manuel, transitioning with all the painful shyness, confusion and insecurity that comes with crossing the great divide from boy to man. Manuel’s stumbling attempts to negotiate the minefield of misunderstandings in the world of courtship are told against the backdrop of the changing seasons, work in the fields, the bonds of male friendship and social opportunities to observe and engage with the ever-mysterious female. 

Calvino’s writing is so very evocative; his voice authentic. There is a humanity and sweetness to the stories that avoids sentimentality.  He stretches out a hand and takes his reader into a very different world but one which explores universal themes. 

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