by Dalton, Trent
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Pub Date 10 Jan 2023 | Archive Date 18 Apr 2023
Harper 360, Harper360
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 4 members
Trent Dalton is one of my favorite fiction writers. To say I was hopeful that I would "love" this nonfiction book is an understatement. Love Stories has such a beautiful premise, and it is so wonderfully executed. This is the perfect book for the month of February. I will definitely be recommending it to everyone and anyone.
This is a story of love, a love story to love in all its many forms, a story of life and loss, and loss of life. It is a beautiful collection of stories shared by random people who happened to walk into Trent Dalton’s life, or at least up to the table he sits typing at, some for mere moments, and others who shared deeply personal, heartfelt memories. Some happy, some dark, some sad, but all 150 of them are worth reading.
This story begins with a love letter to a friend, Kathleen Kelly, thanking her for the gift of the typewriter that was handed down to him after her death, letting her know that it ’might be the most beautiful gift I ever got’ as he looks at the photo of her on the funeral booklet. This gift is, at least in part, what inspires him to do what he does with the typewriter, the other inspiration is the story they share about the life shared with her husband and family.
’You knew the secret to it all, how the greatest gift we can give to the world is to shut up and listen to it.’
And so that is what he does to honor her memory, in a way it reminded me of what she told him when his father passed, He’s not dead while his name is still spoken,’ you reminded me.’ They still live on in stories, and the stories, in turn, become a memory.
And so he sits on a chair on a street with a sign asking for people to share their stories of love, and as the days passed, at least 150 people sat down to share their stories, so there are 150 love stories in this collection. Some are happy, some sad, some beautiful, some heartbreaking, but all are worth reading.
Published: 10 Jan 2023
Many thanks for the ARC provided by Harper 360
In a Nutshell: An unusual anthology of love stories. Before you go, ‘What’s unusual about love stories?’, let me tell you that these tales are not fictional but factual, collected from random strangers whom the author met in Brisbane in a two month period after the lockdown was relaxed in 2021.
When his friend’s mom passed away, she left author Trent Dalton an old but well-maintained Olivetti typewriter. Dalton wanted to use this gift of love for a special purpose, and what better purpose could there be than to use it to collect more stories of love? Thus Dalton sat with his typewriter on a Brisbane street, asking random passers-by, ‘Can you please tell me a love story?’ Their responses form this book. (I was quite impressed at the multitude of nationalities staying in Brisbane. So many people from so many countries!)
The problem with the word ‘love’ is that our minds immediately jump to romance. But the real-life anecdotes in this anthology go so much beyond plain old romance. It comprises love in all its forms – parent, sibling, friend, work, country. It even covers heartbreaks and hopes. The variety is the strongest plus point of this book.
You might call this a collection of human stories rather than love stories. Some of the tales are philosophical, some are funny, some sweet, some sad, some weird. But all depict a myriad human emotions. As I progressed through the book, I couldn’t help but recollect the famous passage from 1 Corinthians 13, that talks of the qualities of love. All of those qualities are referenced in some way or the other in this collection.
There are forty-three “chapters” herein. Some of these focus on a single person’s recollections, while some chapters are more like a collection of 3-5 stories set around a common theme. Interspersed in between are Dalton’s own thoughts of the ‘love stories’ in his own life.
I was going to rate this book the way I usually rate anthologies, giving a star rating to each story and then averaging it out. But I decided against doing that after the halfway mark. Not just because whatever stories I had rated seemed to fall between 3 to 5 stars, but also because all of these are real love stories and rating them felt like rating people and their experiences. The ones that we connect with more emotionally, we will automatically like more.
All in all, the book is a collection of love made through love. And today, if there's one thing the world needs more of to heal itself, it's love. Simple, old-fashioned, honest-to-goodness love for self and for others and for the planet.
At the same time, reading these in one go will create a bit of a saturation, especially as it isn’t fast-paced. I think this anthology will work far better if you savour it in small bites rather than gulping it down in one go.
Definitely recommended to those who are looking for evidence that the world is not entirely self-obsessed and there’s plenty of love to go around. There are plenty of beautiful stories that will leave you with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart. The Beatles weren’t wrong: All you need is love, indeed.
My thanks to Harper 360 and NetGalley for the DRC of “Love Stories”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.
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