Love Songs in Minor Keys


 love songs in minor keys


Last week my quiet moments were spent with a book of short stories by Joe Cavano. I’m a fan of short stories. Yes, 900 page novels do it for me too. There’s such felicity in picking up a big brick of a book knowing it’s going to last a good long time. But short stories satisfy in a different way. I’ve heard them described as the literary equivalent of a Whitman’s Sampler. A variety of bite-sized pieces, each individually contained and complete.

Joseph Cavano’s clean, clear style is an excellent contrast to the complexities, the confusion, the clutter of our relationships. They have a deceptively simplistic feel, fable-like at times. The nine stories are mostly character-driven and, like Mr Cavano’s writing, the characters first appear straightforward. Stereotypical in some cases. But are any of us that simple? Full of lights and darks and contradictions, the characters come to life and stay with you beyond the stories they tell. And they love. Romantically, companionably, steadfastly, brokenly, selfishly, sufferingly. They love for the right reasons, the wrong reasons, for no reason. Like me. Probably like you. Sometimes they love only themselves. These aren’t conventional “love stories” so check any preconceived notions at the door.

If I had to choose a favorite it might be Mayflies. An artist and a storyteller and that first flush of love. True, it’s the most familiar and least shocking of the collection, but its poignancy moved me. Sunday morning I stood watching the mayflies skim the surface of the Greenbrier River. I don’t fish. I’d never really thought of them before. But this story came back to me and I was reminded of how ephemeral life is and how fleeting young love can be.

The blurb on the back of the book says it better than I ever could. A jazz pianist, the author knows very well the power of minor keys. At times exotic, often surprising, they are most powerful when combined with other more familiar sounds; which is what he has done here. The new and the familiar. The dark and the bright. Each blended in such a way as to create a most interesting music. An apt description.