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Island: The Complete Stories Paperback – Nov 28 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 434 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (Nov. 28 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393341186
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393341188
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.7 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #193,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 18 2002
Format: Paperback
Alistair MacLeod writes of isolation and loneliness and loss. His characters are often solitary people, yet they are solitary people with a strong sense of both history and community...the community of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
MacLeod's characters are a dying breed, people we don't see many of these days: coal miners, fishermen, farmers, lighthouse keepers. They are a people held together by a strong Gaelic thread; they speak Gaelic, sing Gaelic songs and live lives upheld and reinforced by strong Gaelic traditions. They are a rural people and they very much prefer things to stay the way they have been.
But, as we all know, things never stay the way they have been. MacLeod's rural characters are the older ones. The younger ones have left the lonely farms of Cape Breton to work and study in the cities. The tourists are moving in, and, finding the Cape Breton landscape "unspoiled," and, therefore, very much to their liking, they are spoiling and defiling it, taking the first steps toward turning it into the very thing from which they wish to escape.
In "Island," MacLeod, writes mainly of the modern, city-wise, young people who come home to visit the dying world from which they wanted to escape. What they find is a world and a culture that will not die, that refuses to be obliterated. "The Closing Down of Summer" is a story that illustrates this persistence of the past perfectly.
MacLeod is at his best in this collection of stories. His prose is emotional but never maudlin, precise but never terse and it possesses a rhythm so Gaelic it can't fail to strike a chord of recognition in anyone who is in the least bit familiar with Cape Breton and its inhabitants.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on Aug. 20 2001
Format: Hardcover
Fans of Alistair MacLeod, please understand -- I respect his writing abilities, but this book disappointed me. Perhaps it's too much in the vein of what little I've read of Hemingway and London -- but it just didn't hold me like I anticipated...and yes, I read it all the way through.
There were some stories I liked more than others -- but for the most part, I found them to be uninvolving. His descriptive talents are immense, and his feeling for his subjects and their setting -- Canada's beautiful but harsh Cape Breton Island, for the most part -- is obviously deep and heartfelt. Perhaps his characters and his storylines are just a little too rough-hewn for me, I can't really put my finger on it.
I'm glad I read this book -- I had heard a lot about MacLeod's work in the last year or so -- and I won't go so far as to recommend that others NOT read him. As I said, his talents are genuine and obvious, and others might enjoy these stories more than I did. By all means, if you enjoy reading the work of a craftsman, don't ignore this man's writing.
I've read collections of short stories in the past year that I enjoyed more -- by Russell Banks, John Biguenet, Adria Bernardi, and (my favorite) William Trevor.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This used book looked like new and I was able to offer it as a gift. Also, it arrived faster than expected. I was thrilled.
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By stephen boka on Feb. 22 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Alistair MacLeod is one of Canada's best writers- 'nuff said. Set in Cape Breton, it gives an insight into the culture and mysteries of the region.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hendry on Aug. 28 2001
Format: Hardcover
I found the stories in Alistair MacLeod's Island to be beautifully moving--some incredibly powerful, others merely just very good. These are contemplative stories and because they all deal with similar underlying topics (but altogether different stories)--the return to the rural, the countryside's slow adaptation to change, youth contrasted with age--it makes sense to read these stories slowly, over several weeks. I believe reading these quickly may cause them to blend together, something you don't want to do because each story has its unique original beauty. MacLeod writes very carefully and his prose is very, I don't know, almost heavy, very powerful. You have to be in a contemplative mood, I believe, to appreciate these stories. This is not a collection for that cross country plane ride, or your week at the beach. Rather, these are stories to be savored slowly, in peace and quiet. Well done.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Halifax Mary on Nov. 19 2010
Format: Paperback
I would have to agree with a previous reviewer who said that while he appreciates the works of such a talent as Alistair MacLeod, this book is just not my cup of tea and I don't really know why it's not. It could be that I just don't like short stories. I don't feel a connection with the characters as it takes time for character development...likely why I prefer a novel. I did read his novel "No Great Mischief" before reading this collection and loved it. I assumed I would love everything he wrote but I guess I was wrong. It was ok but not nearly as good in my opinion as his novel. So if you don't care for this collection of short stories, don't let that turn you against the writings of Alistair MacLeod. As I said previously, his novel was wonderful.
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By Steve R on Jan. 1 2002
Format: Hardcover
MacLeod's stories evoke a sense of place better than most living writers. He does not rend his characters with relentless descriptions of their appearance (in fact, in some of the stories, the characters have no names and we are given little or no hint of what they look like); rather, they seem to emerge from the very landscape the author describes. They are coal miners, fishermen, lighthouse keepers and their wives and children, living in a part of the world that is alternately gorgeous and ferocious. MacLeod recognizes that this is all we need to know of them to understand their lives. What is even more impressive than MacLeod's elegant, understated style is the fact that the stories in Island were published over the course of 30 years, from the late '60s to 1999. Yet the author's voice and the quality of his craftsmanship are so masterful, the span of time between the stories is virtually indiscernible. This is what makes literature classic.
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