Light Lifting Paperback – Apr 21 2011
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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.
"A thoughtful, beautifully crafted, big-hearted work" -- Anne Enright "Alexander MacLeod's control of cadence and rhythm is so complete that it seems effortless. These stories offer a real pleasure which comes from the sense of life and emotional honesty in them. The pleasure also comes from their beautiful tone and something in the voice which is both relaxed and perfect. They contain a rare kind of truthfulness." -- Colm Toibin "Every so often a new writer comes along with a true gift for language...an elegant, conversational simplicity" LA Times "Outstanding" -- Suzi Feay Independent "Brilliant...engrossing, thrilling and ultimately satisfying: each story has the weight of a novel" The Economist --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The majority of the seven stories are written in first person voices, drawing the reader intimately into each of the narrators' points of view on concrete experiences in their lives. In 'Miracle Mile', Michael, while preparing for an important international running meet, reflects back on his long friendship with his closest competitor. As children they already raced together, and sometimes, at night, they risked their lives by running through a cross-border train tunnel beneath the Detroit river. One dangerous run is so vividly depicted, that I felt myself holding my breath until I knew that the kids were both safely on the other side. In this and other stories the author describes in detail the material details that underpin any of his protagonists' physical activities: be it running, swimming, holing bricks, or manoeuvring a bicycle on the icy roads in winter.
While most central characters are young men and only very few women hold an important place in a story, the story of Stace in 'Adult Beginner I' stands out.Read more ›
This comes from the second story, "Wonder About Parents," a magnificent evocation of life with a young baby, interwoven with flashbacks of meeting and courtship, and a history of the human head louse. There is very little story as such, only a series of minor crises and perhaps less minor ones, which may or may not be overcome. The open-endedness is characteristic of all these stories, which are not so much resolved as set in motion, often by some act of unexpected violence, leaving the reader to do the work. In this story, for instance, we may not know how things will work out with the baby, but we do end up very close to the parents, with the feeling that they will get through it, whatever happens.Read more ›
When I had the opportunity to hear Alexander MacLeod read in River John, Nova Scotia, I was very impressed by his dark telling of a portion of The Loop which told the tale of a young delivery man and his glimpses of life before death. I knew I was buying it before hearing this tale, I craved reading it after listening to such a brief portion of the book.
Each story weaved darkness and hope so wonderfully and simply for me that, as a writer, I appreciated, longed for and knew I could strive for. Although it captured the attention of Canadians like a rainy, mild day in winter, it was subtle enough to offer emerging authors hope of breaking into the short story readership.
Light Lifting concluded with heavy machinery which wasn't extremely well received by Globe and Mail's reviewer Jim Bartley, he too couldn't forget that that The Number Three was heavy hitting.
Each story was left in a way that the reader remained thinking and I for one enjoyed this as I still care and wonder about each stories characters. Now I just want Alexander MacLeod to come out with a new collection or his first full length novel.
Thanks for reading,
Most recent customer reviews
Great book, I couldn't put it down. Wish I could find more by this author.Published 9 months ago by Heather Stewart O' Brien
Great short stories. all the stories end with a meaningful action that the story builds up to and I loved that. Its like after its done there is just no more to say. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Alex Houle
A vow was made some time ago that my reviews would reflect things I loved, or even liked a lot. Something that caused mixed feelings were not factored in. Read morePublished on Sept. 6 2012 by Scoopriches
There aren't many, but the stark, unflinching humanism of every story makes each of them resonate like a novella. In MacLeod,s infectious prose you will taste bits of D.A. Read morePublished on Oct. 23 2011 by G. McEachern
I agree that the writing was of the highest quality however my biggest disappointment with this collection is exactly what another reviewer liked: the author leaves each story... Read morePublished on Jan. 13 2011 by B. Anderson