Review: Love Stories

I’m known to spend my brief lunch breaks pouring over my latest read, gingerly page turning with one hand. Shoving food down with the other. There are usually accidents thus there is always a sheet of paper towelling or a servette present, as well. Let me tell you; if Love Stories by Trent Dalton is your current lunch date, you’ll need a few extra rolls of paper towelling. Not because the stories within ignite a voracious appetite but because they unbottle a sea of emotions that by the very last pages even the most robust 3 ply paper towel could not possibily absorb.

Love Stories is not a wanton sob fest however. It’s more of a two-armed hug. It’s warm and intimate. Compassionate and global. It cleaves your heart open then carefully welds it back together, better than it was before even if you’re a bit like me; someone who has never succumbed to the pull of Valentine’s Day, who regards romance as improbable as a lottery win. Someone who has craved love since she could toddle after it with both arms outstretched, yet is equally quick to shun its implications and expectations.

I still don’t know exactly what love is but after reading this astounding, heartfelt compilation of true-life love stories, these deeply personal accounts of life and the glue that binds all of us to it, I reckon I am closer to understanding its capabilities, its potency and its significance. Even if Trent’s missus says the best thing about love is that it's not for understanding. She’s right. The question of what love is is akin to one of those existential conundrums I’d rather not waste too much energy on, content with the enigma.

Luckily for us all though, Trent thought otherwise and spent the better part of two months on the corner of a busy intersection in Brisbane’s CBD observing, asking, typing and employing a writer’s greatest tool, listening to the (love) stories that make us human. The resultant collection is a stunning naked baring of the human soul, the pure and wondrous ones and the grubbier damaged ones, each shared with an honesty and a familiarity that belies the amount of time Trent spent with these virtual strangers. Suddenly, they no longer were.

The theme, as elementary as it is, raised more reasons to ponder and question than I thought possible. Such is the vast landscape of one of the most simple yet inexplicable emotions we can ever experience. Love for me is therefore a bit like a theoretical emotional multiverse: too complex for my small brain to fully grasp but infinitely fascinating and worth exploring nonetheless. Because, when all the complexities of love are stripped back, all you simply need is, it. I think this is the essence of what Dalton is trying to present; a beautiful ode to the humility of humanity.  

Dalton explores this universe with non-judgemental reverence and respect and tonne of humour delivering what he promised this seemingly eccentric work might encompass that night I first heard him speak of it in the middle of Boggo Road Gaol, which is a whole other story.

Love Stories has but one fault. Well, two if you take into account it comes without tissues. And that fault is that it ends. I mean it has to but like all great tales, the one of love is hard to relinquish especially when recounted so engagingly. Again, Dalton does it with consummate grace and heart pulling precision. Highly recommended like watching sunsets, in the rain.

Title: Love Stories
Author: Trent Dalton
Publisher: Forth Estate, imprint HarperCollins, $32.99
Publication Date: October 2021
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781460760932
For ages: 15+
Type: Biography, Autobiography, Non-Fiction 


Norah said…
What a beautiful review, Dimity. I agree with every word. What a fantastic project and an amazing heartwarming book. I listened to Trent read it to me. It was as if he was sitting beside me, telling me about all the wonderful, sad, joyful, together, broken people he met, each with an unique tale of love. I didn't want it to end. I loved the way he wove his own story seamlessly into it without detracting from any other contributor or the quotes he included. I especially love the story of the blue typewriter he used to write the stories and am happy to know that it has found its perfect place beside his front door.
Thank you for your words which flew me back to the love affair I had with Trent and the words of his book.
Dimity said…
You couldn't be more welcome, Norah or more accurate. This is a deeply profound and personal revelation from Trent as much as anything else, which is a characteristic of his narratives I find so compelling and appeasing to experience. Dim x

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