Verdict: Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure is a complex exploration of the human psyche in all his humor, wretchedness and darkness. Insightful and intense.
Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure is a collection of ten short stories, each a snapshot revealing gritty irony in the lives of various characters.
Among the stories included in this collection of stories are the following:
This is Butte. You have Ten Minutes, “the man with the Blackberry” documents his life and observations in emails sent from his Blackberry, and finds inspiration of sorts in Darcia – a woman he meets on the bus while on the way home;
Alyssa Alights, in which the character known as “the girl” considers it fair to trade a sexual favor with a trucker she finds “repugnant” in return for a ride to get away from home;
“The Paperweight” has serious journalist GilChrist up against his superiors, “The Drone” and “The Diploma”, who are want him to write shorter, flashier news stories versus more ‘journalistic’ stories. Reluctantly he does so, but seeks revenge in a unique way that ironically ends up biting him in the backside;
Somewhat humorous compared to the other stories, Cruelty to Animals tells the story of a man (“he”) who, after divorcing his wife, goes to visit Diane, his email lover that will cherish him. However, once she receives the man’s gift, it turns out that Diane decides she no longer needs him;
She’s Gone uncovers the darker side of divorce, unrequited love and conflict between an older child and his divorced parents;
Sad Tomato: A Love Story is another edgy vignette in which “she” is driven to the edge of insanity in her quest to please her man.
Author Craig Lancaster’s diverse characters are mostly nameless and teetering on the edge of safety and sanity, struggling as they balance on the thin and jagged line between hope and despair:
“He cut a jagged edge into the fleshy area near the turn of her elbow, and it hurt.
She suppressed the whimper, because she feared that he wouldn’t love her anymore
if he didn’t think she was tough, and if he didn’t love her anymore, then he should just
keep cutting until there was nothing left.”
Lancaster details the characters’ desperation as they struggle to communicate in real time, person to person, or attempt to connect virtually, often with disastrous results:
“…the man with the BlackBerry stumbled into sleep, never stirring as message from home,
slathered in vitriol and covering his failures as a man, as a provider, as a husband, began
filling his inbox.”
Lancaster’s crisp observations and sensual descriptions keep the narrative moving:
“the rain had passed. As her sense rallied into form, she heard the ping of water falling
from the eaves into pools that had gathered in the alleyway.”
Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure is a complex exploration of the human psyche in all his humor, wretchedness and darkness. Insightful and intense.
Also by the same author: The Summer Son
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader.com 2012
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