I had the opportunity recently to review a new work of fiction by author Lania Knight, Three Cubic Feet. The link will take you to the pre-sales site where, if you like the sound of this review and you enjoy the 1st chapter (which you can read from the link), you can pre-order the book at a special price. It’s due to be released, June 19th by Main Street Rag.
Theo is a gay 16 year old teen living in small town Missouri with his father, step-mother and sister. He’s struggling to come to terms with being gay and being in love with his also gay best friend Johnathan (who’s 17) who isn’t drawn to Theo in a romantic sense but who seems to look for love in all the wrong places hemself. He tells Theo he’s too old for him. Jonathan is all of a year older than Theo.
Both teenagers have troubled home lives. Theo’s father suffered through a horrible car accident and he’s still recovering. Theo’s stepmother, Della, is his primary caretaker. She assumes the mantle of caretaker to the family (whether they kids want her to or not) and becomes far too involved in Theo’s life in several misguided attempts to make the world safe for him. Johnathan’s parents meanwhile, don’t know that he is gay and he prefers it to stay that way because his father has a violent temper and has taken it out on his sons before (Johnathan has an older brother who has left home).
If only life could be a little simpler. Ah, but it’s not! It’s especially not when you’re a teenager and you’re just trying to figure it all out. This is a “coming of age” story certainly, but not your typical one. It’s also, of course, a “coming out” – or being outed – story. In both cases, the tale is well told by Ms. Knight.
Lania Knight, Ph.D., is a professor of creative writing at Eastern Illinois University. Three Cubic Feet, a novella, will be her first book length publication. Her stories have previously appeared in journals and other publications.
Knight’s background in writing shines here. She makes none of the mistakes many first time novelists make. She keeps the book short at 137 pages by not trying to say too much but she certainly says “enough”. You won’t feel that she’s missed anything with this story. It’s what my grandmother would have called “spot on”. Though there are a dozen or so periphery characters around our two main characters, they all add to the story without overwhelming the reader with people and points to remember – a mistake often made by 1st timers and one of my pet peeves. The writing here is tight and focused.
I enjoyed this and I really felt for these two young men at the end. I hope to see this book do very well once it’s published and I look forward to reading more of Lania Knight’s work.