Simply put, The Theory of Light & Matter is one of the best books of short stories I have ever read. Andrew Porter's collection is made up of 10 stories that take place across the U.S. Several of the stories feature an adult narrator looking back on an incident that occurred in childhood/adolescence or early adulthood. Siblings play a big role in this book-- brothers and sisters can often be confidantes and downfalls at the same time.
The first story in the book, "Hole," features a 20-something narrator who looks back on a childhood summer when he lost a close friend in an accident. The title story, one of the strongest, follows a woman's two love interests, who couldn't be more different, and her choice between them. "Merkin" is about a man who pretends to be his neighbor's boyfriend to spare her father the truth about her sexuality, but there are real feelings lurking beneath the surface.
The writing is spare, clear, and lyrical and incredibly evocative. Porter won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction for this book. These short stories are incredible, and I hope to read more from Porter.
Here is an excerpt from "The Theory of Light & Matter": Later that evening, when I returned from Robert's apartment, Colin was waiting in the hallway outside my dorm room. He was wearing his swim team sweat suit and reading a book. When he saw me approaching the door, he stood up and smiled. I could see in his eyes that he was concerned about where I had been, and when he took my hand without a word and kissed me against the wall, I realized the full extent of both his fear and his love for me.
Just One Pink gives The Theory of Light & Matter a 9.8 (because nothing is perfect...).