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Light Lifting Paperback – Apr 21 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Biblioasis; 1 edition (April 21 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897231946
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897231944
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.4 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #67,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

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.


"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 "Outstanding...The final lines of MacLeod's stories tend to be ambiguous and sinister...Most strikingly, as we leave a man by the hospital cot of his desperately sick baby, the lights on the machine flash "Like a discotheque, maybe, or the reflection of ancient fire in a cave". Without a formal resolution, such stories are free to create ripples in the mind of the reader." -- Suzi Feay Independent "Brilliant debut collection, Light Lifting, is engrossing, thrilling and ultimately satisfying: each story has the weight of a novel... It is the beautiful writing that really carries this book. The choice of words is spare, simple and unaffected, and the rhythm is perfect: despite the sadness that overlays many pieces, they flow with the comforting lull of a bedtime story." The Economist "Rarely does fiction inhabit the body - the moving, athletic body - as fully as in Alexander MacLeod's debut story collection... Sensitive and subtle, MacLeod is a writer through whose deliberately partial and quotidian pieces shimmers life's unspoken complexity." -- Giller Prize Jury Citation "[MacLeod's] capacity to encapsulate entire lives in the span of a few pages rivals Alice Munro. This is one of the finest collections of short fiction to appear ... in a long, long time." Quill & Quire (Best Books of the Year citation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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