These slow, beautiful stories - resolute and resonant - are small masterpieces: apparently simple but actually crafted with enormous skill and precision. Set against the unforgiving landscape of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, they are all concerned with the complexities and mysteries of the human heart, the unbreakable bonds and unbridgeable chasms between man and woman, parent and child. Steeped in memory and myth and washed in the brine and blood of the long battle with the land and the sea, these stories celebrate a passionate engagement with the natural world and a continuity of the generations in the face of transition, in the face of love and loss. As John McGahern says in his eloquent foreword: 'the work has a largeness, of feeling, of intellect, of vision, a great openness and generosity, even an old-fashioned courtliness. The stories stand securely outside of fashion while reflecting deep change'. Bringing together all Alistair MacLeod's short fiction, and including two previously uncollected stories, Island represents the great achievement of one of the world's finest storytellers.
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(198mm x 129mm x 28mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Alistair MacLeod is a Canadian short story writer. He writes almost exclusively about the society of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and most of his stories are about working men (usually fishermen). Here he collects 16 of his shorter pieces, published between 1968 ('The Boat') and 1999 ('Clearances'). All the stories are elegantly written in a terse, yet often lyrical style. They are Canadian examples of a particular genre of North American short fiction, dominated by Raymond Carver and Richard Ford. In this kind of writing, the subject matter tends to be an emotionally charged moment in the lives of - usually working class - characters, the significance of which they may not fully understand. The style is realist, clipped and demotic. That said, this is not an especially populist form. Though something of an acquired taste, Carver, Ford, MacLeod et al. have all generally enjoyed a high cultural profile - a combination of stylized writing and minimal action constitutes a fairly aggressive claim to artistic significance. MacLeod's writing is not as forbidding as Carver's (let alone grandfather-of-the-genre Hemingway's) and his work has an honesty to it even when it waxes poetic and a tad prolix. That, coupled with a powerful sense of place and hardship, makes his work impossible to reduce to a set of generic conventions. This is great winter reading, if only because it is largely about people colder and worse off than oneself; read it as the year draws to a close, and enjoy the cold, crisp, nostalgic atmosphere it evokes. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Alistair MacLeod
Alistair MacLeod was born in 1936 and raised in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He is Professor Emeritus of English Literature at the University of Windsor, Ontario.