Brian Sousa, author of Almost Gone
, has described
his collection of short stories as a look “at a family of working-class Portuguese Americans from the inside out.” And that “In many ways, they could be any set of people facing the challenges that immigration adds to the already complicated world of human interaction — adolescence, love, relationships, loss, regret, betrayal — but in other ways, they are distinctly Portuguese.”
That loss, regret, and betrayal of which Sousa speaks marks each of his characters indelibly in different ways. Their stories intertwine and mesh, zig-zagging through the 1940s to present day.
We meet Scott, who cannot get past his regret over the death of his only child and the subsequent dissolution of his marriage, Catarina, a young beauty whose attractiveness is more of a hindrance than a blessing, and Paulo, a man disenchanted and disappointed both with his family and his lot in life. These characters orbit around the old school Portuguese Nuno and his wife Helena, to whom he has been married for over a half century. The story of how they betrayed each other culminates in one of the most stunning moments in the book.
It may take you some time to get these characters straight in your mind; the stories do not follow a linear path. But Sousa’s sharp poetic prose will make you care about these people and you will want to follow Almost Gone
to its conclusion.
The author has written a generational story which could have easily turned into a sprawling saga. Instead the tale is told as a series of short stories in a mere 167 pages. It is a testament to Sousa’s strong writing skills that the book does not suffer for this brevity. Rather the economy of language and the masterful weaving of storylines serve to make Almost Gone
a fine read you should not miss.