Quill & Quire
Light Lifting is one of those rare debuts: a breathtakingly good collection of short fiction that heralds the arrival of a significant new talent. It’s also the sort of book one worries won’t get the attention it deserves.
The seven stories each encompass a keenly observed, immersive world, and each carries the weight and impact of a novel. They are reminiscent of the work of Alice Munro at her best: rich and deep, merciless and utterly unflinching.
MacLeod’s stories are shorn of sentimentality but drenched in an amorphous yearning, an omnipresent sense of loss and peril that seeps into even the happiest moments. “Good Kids,” about a family of four boys and their relationship with the boy who lived briefly in the rental house across the street, exemplifies a sense of sharp nostalgia: “Our sticks were Koho and Sherwood shafts with plastic blades that had been wickedly curved over the front burner of the stove and we usually played with tennis balls that were too small and kept falling down through the grates of the sewer.” These reminiscences are balanced with keen insight into the casual, almost inevitable brutality that even “good” kids are capable of.
Despite that underlying sense of sadness, the characters in Light Lifting aren’t adrift. They’re rooted firmly in the real world of work and family. In “Wonder About Parents,” a head-lice infestation serves as the springboard for the history of a relationship and a family, from a drunken dorm-room night to checking each other’s hair for nits, from fertility problems to a child in danger. It’s surprisingly suspenseful – the perilousness of life and love is laid out almost clinically – yet also deeply resonant.
Light Lifting is a brilliant collection without a weak link. Steeped in the guts and sadness of life, it provides moments of pure literary transcendence. Don’t let it get overlooked.
"His brilliant debut collection, "Light Lifting," is engrossing, thrilling and ultimately satisfying: each story has the weight of a novel. The young Canadian writer is already winning plaudits in his own country. He can expect acclaim far beyond ... The choice of words is spare, simple and unaffected, and the rhythm is perfect ... stunning work. Mr. MacLeod's next contribution will be eagerly anticipated."--"The Economist"
"MacLeod's compassion and gift for a telling detail go a long way...[he] has recently been shortlisted for four literary prizes. On this evidence, he deserves it."--"The Guardian"
"Across seven wide-ranging tales, lives are saved, others are lost, and redemption, both physical and spiritual, is occasionally found. Nevertheless, the world harnessed by MacLeod is also one that bursts with wonder and nostalgia, and the author lets his subjects shine with both raw power and supple beauty throughout. Each story in Light Lifting is a true marvel--there are no fillers here--and with every passing page MacLeod firmly establishes himself as a bright new talent in literary fiction." Benjamin Woodard, "Rain Taxi"
"MacLeod's "Light Lifting" arrives across the Atlantic laden with praise."--"Irish Times"
"Alexander MacLeod demonstrates a strapping writerly prowess. If literature were an athletic competition he'd certainly deserve a silver medal, and I suspect he'll soon be vying for gold." --"The National Post"
"Alexander MacLeod looks like a heavyweight in the making."--"Irish TImes"
"create[s] ripples in the mind of the reader"--"The Independent"
"Alexander MacLeod's control of cadence and rhythm is so complete that it seems effortless.... [These stories] contain a rare kind of truthfulness." --Colm Toibin
""Light Lifting" shows MacLeod is a honed storyteller. What will surprise, and surely impress, is the fresh, imaginative subject matter. And the integral prose: MacLeod has the ability to wave his wan
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