A vow was made some time ago that my reviews would reflect things I loved, or even liked a lot. Something that caused mixed feelings were not factored in. Hence, my hesitation over Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod.
This collection of short stories was recommended to me by my friends @kveenly and @rebeccahh95, who have excellent tastes in literature. But I can’t help feel something is missing from my understanding of this volume. It was nominated for the Giller Award in 2010, which is impressive, but for me it seemed average.
Alexander has a nice writing style, poetic in some places, with several sentences that just sing off the page. At times passages are very spellbinding, making you cheer or feel sorry for a character. He seems at his best in these spots, bringing his full power out in order to score an emotional point. The bottom of the swimming pool scene in Adult Beginner I illustrates his talents here precisely.
Wonder About Parents is my favourite of these seven stories. The journey is compelling and the use of flashbacks fill in so much of the feelings. It also features very short, snappy sentences, made to form like memory fragments. This feature is enchanting and inventive.
The downfall for my enjoyment was the length, endings and/or topics of each piece. It seemed like most entries were too long, with padding to make them epic in some way. And most just seemed to end with a shrug from the writer to the reader. The title story, Light Lifting, especially suffered from this idea. What happened at the end? Did I miss something? That same thought can be applied to the plots of some of these stories are as well. Sick people are depressing? Autistic kids are different? I think that is what some of these are about, but don’t quote me.
I have no regrets about reading this volume, even through it was my #fridayreads for over a month. Alexander has skill and talent with words, and it should be interesting when his next volume comes out. I just hope he becomes leaner with the wordage and, as Walt Disney would say, have a story and stick to it. After all it worked for Walt.
P.S. Light Lifting is copyright 2010 and is written by Alexander MacLeod. Published in 2010 by Biblioasis with cover copyright to them as well.