The Theory of Light and Matter

Andrew Porter

The Theory of Light and Matter
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The Theory of Light and Matter

Andrew Porter

These ten stories offer a stunning vision of contemporary American suburbia, littered with tension, heartbreak and revelations. Andrew Porter’s stories take readers across the country - from rural Pennsylvania to Southern California to the quiet streets of Connecticut. At the heart of each story characters struggle to find meaning in their daily lives. Among them a college student searches for her soul mate, a young man reconstructs the memory of a friend’s deadly fall, and two neighbours share an intimate secret. Andrew Porter’s The Theory of Light and Matter is the work of an important new voice in American fiction.


What strikes the reader most when reading Andrew Porter’s debut short-story anthology is the ease and speed with which one finishes it. Porter is an accomplished storyteller and his ability to pierce right at the heart of ordinary people’s fears and desires leaves the reader wanting more.

The majority of stories in The Theory of Light and Matter centre on adults trying to make sense of their earlier years: in ‘Hole’ a man is haunted by the unexplainable death of a childhood friend, while two sisters grapple with the death of their father in ‘Storms’. Most remarkably, Porter is able to inhabit the lives of his female characters convincingly, something many male writers fall short in doing. The story after which the anthology is named is a clear example. Porter portrays an unhappy wife consumed by the memory of a friendship with a former college professor. The story is further commendable for avoiding the clichés such tales usually disintegrate into. The same goes for the remaining nine innovative stories in this collection.

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