In May Wayne State University Press will publish Laura Hulthen Thomas' debut story collection, States of Motion. From that comes the story, "The Lavinia Nude." The majority of the stories in the collection are of solid length--this one is about 30 pages and the space allows for Thomas to both go into details as well as not rush herself of her story. "The Lavinia Nude" begins:
He couldn't continue to stare at that girl staring right back at him, but there was nothing else to look at except the nude hanging above the young woman's left shoulder; and Marlin couldn't look at that without blushing.
Not just interesting (why are they staring? the nude?) but we find out about the "nude" in the title as well as our protagonist's name right off the bat. As we progress through the story we find out that Marlin is at the diner his son owns and runs, that there are a group of older men such as himself that are semi-regulars in the place, and the young staring woman is a reporter that has interviewed Ben (the son) about the painting, as the artist is beginning to gain some attention in the art world.
Without spoiling anything for you future readers of this collection, Thomas slowly hints at a couple of things between Marlin and his family members--wife, son, and daughter-in-law in a way that had me a little surprised at myself early on for considering a potential story line, and then further on finding it harder to nudge that idea out of my head, and finally hitting a point of saying out loud--"She didn't" about Thomas and her writing. The way she's done this is something I'm going to want to go back and re-read a couple of times to figure out. Typically if there's some sort of fairly big reveal in a story like this when not written by capable hands finds me overly positive from very early on , or so surprised that the event doesn't seem to have been earned by the author--that is NOT the case at all with "The Lavinia Nude."