I was first introduced to the prose of Canadian writer Jerry Levy in 2012 when his story “Paris is a Woman,” about a bank clerk who trades his wife and job for an artist’s life in Paris, featured in issue #9 of Lowestoft Chronicle. As I recall, it was a rather captivating piece with a gently evolving story that might have gone in any number of directions but which concluded in an unanticipated, unresolved way. A tale with the emphasis on character over plot, but no less enjoyable because of it. The story was subsequently included in Levy’s first story collection, URBAN LEGEND, published by Thistledown Press in 2013.
Obviously, Levy has been busy in the intervening years, his stories published in a variety of literary outlets, and in April of this year, his second collection, THE QUANTUM THEORY OF LOVE AND MADNESS, finally hit the bookstores. This pleasurable, worthwhile volume, published by Guernica Editions, is an interesting mix of “slice of life” and speculative fiction that offers more of the same, in that the author shines a sharp white light on irregular things and people and keeps the beam in place while restless, unfulfilled characters unravel and their lives veer in new directions.
Off-kilter stories about a man who captures a hideous creature and opens a freak show, and a fictional character who implores her creator to make her three-dimensional, sit alongside tales of a teenager who considers reporting her arsonist brother to the police, and a middle-aged man leaving his family to pursue his literary ambitions. There are also quirky, slightly absurdist stories such as my favorite, “The Doctor is in,” where the doctor in question — a perspicacious homeless man collecting small change for consultations — delves into the psyche of a troubled insomniac. Here, the humor seems to come naturally, and the story has a neat twist.
Levy has mentioned in an interview having once taken a “literary vacation” to Paris to follow in the footsteps of writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and there is a distinct autobiographical feel to pieces like “Paris Was the Rage” that helps to give the story sincerity. Consistently, no matter how the author’s fiction deviates from the expected path, characters experience change and growth, and tales progress to a satisfying conclusion, making Levy’s plots rounded and protagonists nicely developed.
You can obtain a copy of THE QUANTUM THEORY OF LOVE AND MADNESS from Amazon or directly from the publisher. For more about Levy, find him on his website here. Alternatively, check out this interview with him at Beach Metro Community News.