The Theory of Light and Matter by Andrew Porter (Text Publishing)
As a media student, I always thought that I’d be better at writing short stories. Novels always seemed too complicated and intimidating to me, but short stories, being made up of less words, had the illusion of being easier. But in some ways I think they are even more difficult to write.

I realized this when I actually tried to write one, and even more so after I read Andrew Porter’s collection of short stories, The Theory of Light and Matter.

Set in suburban America, the various entries, some only two pages long, deal with all the depressing aspects of life behind carefully manicured front lawns.

 It amazed me how well Porter was able to write from so many diverse perspectives, and how not one of the stories seemed to follow a similar format.

I enjoyed the descriptions of jacaranda trees in suburban Houston, the dry, oppressive heat of rural Virginia and the all the intimate insights into American homes, with all their pretence, parties and secrets.

So many of the characters in The Theory of Light and Matter are lost, sad and lonely, something that I think resonated with me, having always had an interest in the isolated lives many people live in suburban areas, everyone somehow dealing with their own past traumas, memories and regrets behind closed gates.

The themes Porter writes about are also ones that I think other South Africans can relate to, especially as most of us also choose to live in the same suburban way, constantly protecting ourselves behind high walls, electric fences and loud, canine barking.

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