collects into a single volume the superbly crafted stories of Alistair MacLeod. In addition to their original appearances in North America's finest literary journals (and various reprints in Best American Stories
and other prestigious anthologies), all but two of the attentive, meditative stories filled the previous books The Lost Salt Gift of Blood
(1976) and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun
(1986). These two books were enough to gain MacLeod the admiration of readers in numerous languages and writers as diverse as Michael Ondaatje, Joyce Carol Oates, and Colm Tóibín.
With unseen, magician's fingers, MacLeod makes the craggy rocks and wave-slapped bays of rugged Cape Breton Island speak for themselves. As in "The Boat," in which the very walls of a house and the fixtures of a boat find voice and carry the story, the stories in Island sing in a choir of voices not exclusively human. Dogs, the lamps of isolated lighthouses, winding roads, and slabs of winter ice sing together in voices both regional and universal. The sternness of the landscape and the livelihoods of MacLeod's people inflect both the actions of his characters and the voice of their narration. In the tragic "As Birds Bring Forth the Sun," a "man with a Highland name who lived beside the sea" nurses an injured dog despite the protests of "the more practical members of his family, who had seen run-over dogs before, [who] suggested that her neck be broken by his strong hands or that he grasp her by the hind legs and swing her head against a rock." These are timeless, ageless stories not only because they will last alongside the similarly dense and striking stories of Chekhov or Carver, but also because in reading them we are ageless, simultaneously child, young lover, and aged hand. --Darryl Whetter
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From Library Journal
One of Canada's most important writers, MacLeod grew up in Cape Breton. Here he presents a powerful collection of short stories set on Canada's Eastern shore, where the traditions and Gaelic language of transplanted Scots continue in a harsh new world. All of these affecting, elegiac tales focus on the strong ties of loving kin, particularly the link between fathers and sons. Fathers share the experience of work with their sons, and boys puzzle over family events and tragedies and learn to be men in the close-knit communities. Sadly, as times change, fathers lose their sons, who become educated men and leave the land and sea for professions in the city. MacLeod's characters are deeply touching and memorable, and their simple lives are rich with loyalty and affection for their families and way of life. The sumptuous language, which immerses the reader in this stunning but unrelenting land, begs to be read aloud. A very special collection; recommended for all public libraries.DCathleen A. Towey, Port Washington P.L., NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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