So This Is Love: Lollipop and Other Stories

Written by Gilbert Reid
First Canadian edition 2004; US edition 2006
Republished by Twin Rivers Productions, 2019

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About the Book

In nine dramatic, vividly etched stories, So This Is Love explores love and hate, the tangle of ambivalence, fascination, perversity, and power at the heart of intimate human relationships.

“Love is perhaps the most difficult subject of all, yet Gilbert Reid writes about it with understanding, kindness, and a very sharp eye. … His stories are in the great traditions of Alice Munro or Mavis Gallant.”
— Margaret Macmillan

In “Pavilion 24,” set in the 1990s Yugoslav Civil War, a Muslim militiaman, his leg amputated above the knee, finds himself lying, helpless, next to his deadly enemy, a beautiful young Serb, her warm body pressed against his. The girl is blind; without him, she will die; without her, he will die.

The theme of blindness returns — metaphorically — in “Soon We will be Blind.” Sitting in the dark drinking beer with her father, a hot rainy summer night, on the porch of a sprawling farmhouse, a young woman is swept back to a summer in the past, to a childhood rape. She remembers, too, how, that same summer, she met the most unique and beautiful person ever to come into her life.

In “After the Rain,” it is April in Paris, many years ago. A jaded libertine diplomat, who is with the woman he truly loves, decides to have sex — out of curiosity and just for the hell of it — with an exotic, beautiful, fragile golden-skinned girl. Can he defy the gods?

In “Irony is …” a professor of literature is marooned on an isolated beach on a volcanic island, with an alluring, nymph-like androgynous French literary theorist. As she weaves her intricate cerebral spell and draws him closer and closer, he falls for her, and ends up playing a starring role in her perverse erotic theatre. But, is he a star, he wonders, or merely an extra, just part of the décor?

“Hey, Mister!” takes place in an African civil war. Can a daring, white, western photo-journalist, famous for her close-up images of human suffering, pluck one small African boy — amid millions — from death and bring him home with her to a new life in Paris?

“The Champion” is set in the twilight of the Italian dolce vita. A cynical white writer and his exquisite offbeat black friend search the beaches and resort towns of the Mediterranean coast, looking for a violent — “toxic” — deadbeat once nicknamed “the champion.” With disabused eyes, the duo delves the depths of toxic love and amorous addiction.

In “Lollipop,” also set on an Italian beach, among flirtations and bottles of wine, a voluptuous young woman, her mind frozen after an automobile accident which left her with a scarred, half-shattered face, bets she can learn the lyrics of “Lollipop.” When she loses the bet, she walks naked into the sea, a wounded goddess disappearing into a blaze of wintery sunlight.

In “Bevete del Vino,” set in Rome’s Left Bank, Trastevere, an international civil servant in his fifties shares his life with a young Englishwoman who reads Kant and Wittgenstein in bed, and who is, as he realizes, infinitely more mature and subtle than he.

In “The Road out of Town” what was once a real farm village has become a tinsel-town tourist attraction, surrounded by endless suburbs, a stage set where everything is false and everyone a stranger. It is to this Ontario village that an old man, an economist who has long lived in Paris, returns. Seeing the village as it is, he remembers the village as it was — and he is swept into his past, his childhood. Suddenly, in the luminous world of memory, he realizes what it was — the life he did not live, the person he never became. And, at the core of this life-long forgetfulness, he remembers too, who she was, the most beautiful, tender, fragile, brave girl he ever knew. Yes, it was love. But he didn’t know it at the time. Only now does he realize … It is strange, he thinks, how easily you can forget who and what you were, and what your life might have been.


Editions

Cover of So This Is Love, Twin Rivers edition, 2019
Twin Rivers Productions, 2019
Cover of So This Is Love, St. Martin's Press, 2006
St. Martin’s Press, 2006
Cover of So This Is Love, Key Porter Books, 2004
Key Porter Books, 2004

Reviews of So This Is Love

“Powerfully rendered and suspenseful.”
— Joyce Carol Oates

“Love is perhaps the most difficult subject of all, yet Gilbert Reid writes about it with understanding, kindness, and a very sharp eye. … His stories are in the great traditions of Alice Munro or Mavis Gallant.”
— Margaret Macmillan

“One of the 100 best books of the year.”
— The Globe and Mail

“An unerring and compelling examination of aggression and compassion.”
— The Vancouver Sun

“In every story, readers engage with an intelligent and observant narrator who … plays with expectations, flipping context or subject in fun or inventive ways…This eclectic collection reads like a series of one-night stands.”
— Quill and Quire

“Reid… displays a mastery of diverse human voices. In fact, it’s more voices than visuals that give his prose its cinematic feel. When these characters talk, it can feel like a perfect harmony of script, casting and performance.”
— The Globe and Mail

“This kaleidoscopic collection has much to offer on the aspects of love.”
— The Edmonton Journal

“This nine-story collection provides a wide look at love, but not from a romance novel’s perspective. … The best are those involving love that comes out of the ashes of hatred and misery like the haunting first story “Pavilion 24.” ”
— Harriet Klausner

“Reid evokes an assortment of settings (“Somewhere the rhythmic crescendo of artillery overtook the roar of the motor. It was subliminal—the distant sound of killing”) and shifts easily among a wide array of characters.”
— Reed Business Information

“Oh, the multifarious catacombs of love–how they twist and twine the heart. … Reid’s Kundera-like descriptions of women permeate his often playful prose. His dialogue is clean and taut, and his storylines weave memory and place, reminding us love is ever-changing.”
— Emily Cook, The American Library Association

“Startling, haunted, and undeniably witty!”
— Anonymous reviewer, Arkansas

So This Is Love made me fall in love with short stories. Each one is so unique, and the prose so beautifully written, you can’t help but want to stay in one of Reid’s many worlds forever.”
— Anonymous reviewer, Texas


Twin Rivers Productions