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Good Reads Review: Love Stories by Trent Dalton

*REVIEW ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THE BOOKTOPIAN: November 2nd. Book provided by HarperCollins Publishers*

The last two years have been tough. Let’s call it, it really has. From the pandemic to political scandals, from protests to conflicting narratives and misinformation, to the minds of many the world may seem a little colder. If you are feeling this way, Trent Dalton’s latest book Love Stories is absolutely for you.

Trent Dalton has become one of the most-loved figures in Australian literature over the last few years, ever since the release of his seminal debut Boy Swallows Universe in 2018, followed by the equally compelling All Our Shimmering Skies in 2020. His books speak to the value of humanity, the magic of the world we inhabit, and most vividly, the love within it. It’s no surprise that his books have resonated during these times.

This brings us to his newest non-fiction effort, Love Stories. Dissecting this book in a review is difficult, because the story of how it came together on a Brisbane street is just as intrinsic to it as the stories it contains. On Christmas Day in 2020, Trent lost a close friend he considered family: the mum of one of his mates, Kathleen Kelly. On the day of her funeral service, her husband Greg gave Trent her beautiful sky-blue Olivetti Studio 44 typewriter, and told him that she wanted him to have it. From that moment, Trent made a promise to write something special on that typewriter.

Promise fulfilled. For lovers of his previous work, this is Trent at his most Trent! Love Stories is a great middle finger to the divisive times we live in. Filled with stories from 150 passers by on the street, this book shows that no matter the background, no matter the context, all of us are all filled with love and belief in the world.

Love, true to its title, takes many forms in this book, whether it be young love, or grief from a loved one who has passed. This book talks of princes from Zimbabwe missing their mothers and high school sweethearts, to a blind man wanting to see the face of his wife of thirty years (that one is a tear-jerker). It talks of love affairs and love at the moment of death. Some stories aren’t for the faint of heart, and others will make your heart sing. This is love, warts and all.

Intercut throughout the book are beautiful notes and letters written on Kath’s typewriter, and these moments and anecdotes are some of the most beautiful in the entire book. Tackling a concept as universal and all encompassing as love is extremely difficult, but Love Stories makes an admirable effort in doing so.

For those wanting to escape from the troubles of our times, or seeking a reaffirmation of what actually is important in life, Love Stories is a must-read this summer. With this book, Trent gives a timely reminder of the value of love and, more importantly, how much meaning it gives to us as humans.


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