By Chelsey Stuyt
VANCOUVER — Clearly written by a poet, R.W. Gray’s short story collection Entropic has a dream-like sentimentality that fixates on the feelings and emotions of the characters, leaving the external world largely undefined. The loosely drawn characters blur together, connecting the stories on an extended note of longing. Gray’s stories of unfulfilled need dance the line between unnervingly erotic and darkly familiar. Reading Entropic is like peeking at the dark space in your heart, hoping to see a light.
Entropic is a book of melancholic vignettes that pulls you into the mists of loneliness and longing for real human connection. In “Blink,” a man discovers his girlfriend has an editing room where she smoothes out the wrinkles in their relationship. After she promises to stop cutting up their memories of each other, he finds himself unable to resist the temptation to erase their little flaws. It is a story of the little edits we all make to console ourselves that the relationship is not really as bad as we suspect. In the titular “Entropic,” a beautiful man secludes himself in a private warehouse and allows the masses to do what they wish with his unconscious body. The story is deeply original and quietly discomfiting – easily the best in the book. But it is the story “The Beautiful Drowned” that highlights the major flaw in the collection. As a woman waits for her husband to drown, the local whore is chased through the streets by a mob of women excited by the change in routine. The plot is the tightest in the book but lacks dramatic tension as we never get the feeling that the characters are truly individuals. They are all facets of a mass of unresolved desire.
The word entropic refers to “the tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity.” Perhaps Gray’s proposition with these tales is that no matter the situation, no matter the station, all humans long for contact. A powerful thought, but one which makes for repetitive reading.
Entropic will be released May 15 on NeWest Press.BC, books, British Columbia, Entropic, NeWest Press, R.W. Gray