What struck me, the first time I read “Love is in the Ether,” was the clean narrative style, and the simple beauty of the language. The words and phrases on the pages here have been pruned and trimmed and cared for in a way that, like Raymond Carver and Amy Hempel’s work, looks deceptively easy. It reminded me of something one of my first writing teachers, Blanche Boyd said, about how to write a story. “Write a beautiful sentence,” she said. “Then write another one, and another, and another.” In a good short story, every sentence is labored over, until it reads so smoothly that you barely notice when the magic happens, and then it does, in spades. This story is adorned with sentences that stayed with me, long after I put it down:
“Oh yes, you continue to produce love, in buckets and gallons, as if you were still needed. Someone forgot to inform your heart: you’ve been laid off.”
“There is always one in the front to put her hand on your foot when you read a story aloud, reverently, as though it were a precious thing, encased in a jeweled sheath instead of a dusty shoe.”
“He held it, you let him, why not?”
“You are a beginner in this world.”
In twelve short pages, Laurence Dumortier is able to make us care enormously about Beatrice–following her through her grief and out the other side–and she does it by stringing these lines together, like perfect beads on a necklace.