A review that originally appeared in The Third Alternative #27:-
DON’T TELL ME THE TRUTH ABOUT LOVE
Fourth Estate hb, 191pp, £12
Rhodes’s second collection consists of seven stories of varying lengths. In ‘The Carolingian Period’ a chance encounter brings home to an ageing academic how he’s wasted his life. A man ignored by the woman he loves, a musician, is transformed into ‘The Violincello’, only to lose out again. The hero of ‘Glass Eyes’ has to prove his love in dramatic fashion, while in Madamoiselle Arc-en-ciel’ a man completely misjudges a woman’s feelings. In ‘Landfall’ an obsessive man and woman collide. ‘The Painting’ fatally beguiles all who see it, while ‘Beautiful Consuela’ demands of her husband the ultimate proof of his devotion.
Rhodes presents the most unlikely people and events with enough conviction to carry the reader along in his wake. There’s a magic realist feel to what’s on the page, with the stories all set in some fabulous never-never land, one so like our own world but not really a part of it, a place where the fantastic is an everyday occurrence, remarked upon in the same way that we discuss the weather. As with Anthropology humour is an essential ingredient of the mix, but this time around more obviously tinged with sadness. And the truth about love? It’s all done with smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand and misdirection, a conjuror’s trick that delights but will fall apart if we examine it closely or ask too many questions. Hence the plea not to be told. Cherish your illusions.