Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review: "Part the Hawser, Limn the Sea" by Dan Lopez

I've said many times before that I marvel at the way short stories can move you, or make you think, in just a small number of pages. Good stories often leave you wanting more—not that the stories necessarily feel unfinished, but rather they get you so hooked on the characters that you would love to spend more time with them.

Dan Lopez's short collection, Part the Hawser, Limn the Sea, included five reasonably short but intriguing stories, several of which I wished were longer because I wanted to know more about the characters. The stories are linked by the sea—the water and boats factor in each of the stories, as do the roller coaster ride of emotions that relationships take you on.

In "Coast of Indiana," a man must decide if he should give up his own career and life's routines to follow his boyfriend, who will be attending graduate school in a small Indiana town. Time on the beach and on a ferry gives him more time to consider this decision. "The Cruise" follows a group of gay men on a cruise who are all lusting after a deckhand, who has ambitions of his own. In "Volumes Set Against a Twilight Sky," an architect, confronting grief after the death of his partner, decides to take the man's diaries on a cruise with a friend, and must come to terms with what he reads. And in the moving title story, two men are brought together by their shared grief about losing custody of their daughters.

I don't know where I heard about this collection, but it was really beautifully written and several of the stories were very moving. I really wish that some of the stories were longer because I would have appreciated getting to know some of these characters more, and better understand what made them tick. One or two seemed to end sooner than I would have liked, and left me wondering what happened next. But Dan Lopez is a tremendously talented writer, and these stories resonate even after they're done.

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