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Love Among the Particles by Norman Lock
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Love Among the Particles

by Norman Lock

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
I got this book as a freebie extra from a publisher when I got an Early Review Book last year. It is a collection of short stories and I started reading it with no expectations.

It was an interesting mix of stories. They had a slightly surrealistic, gothic bent. The first story; "The Monster in Winter" was an interesting twist on Jeykll and Hyde, where Hyde is in jail and a producer is trying to interview him to put on a stage play. The "Ideas of Space" is a man whose society lives among the trees and what happens to him when he comes out onto the vast plains.

The last 3 stories are a triptych called "A Broken Man's Complaint", it includes the title story. Its about a man (an author loosely based on Cook) who finds himself (in a Kafka'ist way) broken up into his constituent atom, quarks, gluons, but is somehow still sentient. He finds himself disconnected from time and space and the stories explore what it means to be "human", how to find love, and how to survive in a new world. Very interesting.

"...on a morning unremarkable except for a cloud edged strangely by phosphorescence in an otherwise ordinary summer sky, I was transformed from a man in his middle age with a mustache, slouch, and an awkward gait to a collation of sentient particles of uncertain age that move with the genius possessed by all gregarious flying things to rise, turn and settle as one." - Love Among the Particles

"The river was greater even than my idea of it had been. I envied its disdain and the ease of its procession through space. Nothing stood in the way of its ends, which it attained single-mindedly. It spent itself in its solitary bed without love or recompense, obedient to ice and thaw, drought and freshet, indifferent to its own futility" - Ideas of Space

7/10

S: 3/30/16 - F: 4/10/16 (12 Days) ( )
  mahsdad | Apr 16, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
While I loved the author's writing, so easy to fall for a well turned phrase, I was not in love with the characters. That being said I also have to admit that I have a harder time with short stories since I am fond of a well developed character. The stories were entertaining, and I imagine i might again pick the book up when I am short on time, but need something to tide the novel lover in me over. ( )
  m4marya | Jan 18, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I must admit at the start that I was overly optimistic to request this collection of short stories. The publisher's description (accurately) indicated the book blended classic "genre" fiction elements ("virtuosic storytelling" borrowing from the likes of Stevenson, Twain, Kafka, and Leroux) with a more literary style employing "dazzling displays of literary pyrotechnics." Since I admire those authors' works and often feel like I "should" read more literary fiction, I though it would be good for me to try this book. And it was a good idea: trying new and "hard" fiction has worked for me in the past. However, this optimism ignored two major problems: I really don't like "literary pyrotechnics," and I rarely enjoy single-author, unrelated short story collections.

To be fair, the stories do give an effort towards "virtuosic storytelling"--I found the first story, "The Monster in Winter" (about Mr. Hyde's life after Dr. Jekyll's death) quite virtuosic indeed. The central concepts of some of these stories are pretty neat, especially the first few. The Stevenson sequel mentioned above, a hauntingly nightmarish sea voyage with a disappearing crew, a mummy's life as a 1930s celebrity--all are fascinating ideas and quite engaging told. But the stories start to become more self-reflexive: the author starts to appear as a character and opine on his interior life, and random weird stuff starts to happen without much attempt at telling any cohesive narrative or portraying any complex characters. Irritatingly enough, obsession with and objectification of women starts to surface as a major theme, yet another pet peeve.

Basically, by the end, I was speeding through the book, just trying to get it over with. Some reviewers have noted the last story (a three-parter about the main character's fragmentation into data) is good, and likely it is. I don't know, because by that point, my reading was quite cursory, verging on skimming. Very likely my negative impression of the book is almost wholly a result of my disliking of this type of collection, so it may be a fine example of its kind. I will say, though, if it seems like this might not be your thing, it probably isn't.
  InfoQuest | Jan 6, 2014 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I enjoyed these re-imaginings of well-known tales in Norman Lock's short story collection Love Among the Particles. Lock enters classic stories like Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde after the curtain has closed and the audience is beginning to file out of the concert hall, when suddenly the cast returns for an encore performance--a final scene after the final scene. He also does this with the iconic 1932 film The Mummy and visits Henry James in a fictional New York outside of his own novels. At times I was even reminded of Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics in the more conceptual stories like "A Theory of Time" and "Ideas of Space." Although I certainly wouldn't call these stories easy-reading, I think you'll find that the challenge is worth the time and attention. ( )
  llusby23 | Nov 7, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An ambitious collection of stories not fitting easily into any particular genre, Norman Lock's Love Among the Particles is the book small presses were made to publish. Lock seems to be a man living in the wrong century - the philosophical strolls he takes in his stories would fit right in with Voltaire or Rimbaud. Oftentimes, plot takes a back seat, or never even gets in the car in the first place, while a stream of conciousness takes over and drives. Unfortunately, the driver tends to grind the gears a little too often.

"The Monster in Winter", an modern day reimagining of Jekyll and Hyde, is brilliantly written, with a rhythmic tone that elevates the story more than it had a right to expect.

"The Captain is Sleeping" teeters on the edge of the supernatural as a ship sails through the endless sea, all the while various crew members disappear - or do they? Is anyone really there?

"The Broken Man's Complaint", the three part story cycle which concludes the book, tells of a man who, through some unknown force, is disassembled into pure data, electrons and protons, particles - and then spends centuries seeking happiness as a disembodied being. It's human as pure metadata.

The collection is worth a read if you like challenging, though-provoking stories, provided you don't mind a few clunkers with a few pleasant finds. ( )
  TheTwoDs | Aug 25, 2013 |
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Love Among the Particles is virtuosic story telling, at once a poignant critique of our romance with technology and a love letter to language. In a whirlwind tour of space, time, and literary history, Lock creates worlds that veer wildly from the natural to the supernatural via the pre-modern, mechanical and digital ages. His characters may walk out of the pages of Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Franz Kafka, or Gaston Leroux, but they are distinctly his own. Mr. Hyde finally reveals his secrets to an ambitious journalist, unleashing unforeseen horrors. An ancient Egyptian mummy is revived in 1935 New York to consult on his Hollywood biopic. A Brooklynite suddenly dematerializes and passes through the internet, in search of true love….

Love Among the Particles will thrill Norman Lock’s devoted fans and dazzle new readers with its dizzying displays of literary pyrotechnics. It is nothing less than a compendium of the marvelous.
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Mr. Hyde finally reveals his secrets to an ambitious journalist, unleashing unforeseen horrors. An ancient Egyptian mummy is revived in 1935 New York to consult on his Hollywood biopic. A Brooklynite suddenly dematerializes and passes through the internet, in search of true love. In a whirlwind tour of space, time, and history, Norman Lock creates worlds that veer wildly from the natural to the supernatural via the pre-modern, mechanical, and digital ages. Whether reintroducing characters from the pages of Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Franz Kafka, and Gaston Leroux, or performing dizzying displays of literary pyrotechnics, these stories are nothing less than a compendium of the marvelous.… (more)

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