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Description - Cal by Bernard MacLaverty

Cal has very few choices in life. He can continue working at the abattoir that sickens him, or join the ranks of the unemployed. He can brood on his past or try to plan a future with Marcella. Cal is a haunting love story set against the fear and violence of Ulster, where tenderness and innocence must struggle to survive.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780140817898
ISBN-10: 0140817891
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 13mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Penguin Classics
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 26-Oct-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Cal by Bernard MacLaverty

US Kirkus Review » MacLaverty (Lamb) accomplishes this short novel with a shudder-soft grace and inevitability; little here feels forced or elongated, though the story itself is almost banal in bare outline. Cal McCrystal is a young unemployed Ulster Catholic (he could work at the abbatoir with his father Shamie, but he can't stand the sights and smells); as the only Catholics left on their street, he and Shamie are subjected to threats and, eventually, arson. Yet Cal is no rabid IRA-er - despite his having been coerced by them into a terrible deed: acting as the driver on a murder run that assassinated a Protestant reserve policeman. It's Cal's fate, in fact, to be repeatedly roped into situations he doesn't really want to be in. And the central plot here involves Cal's love from afar for a local librarian, Marcella, who turns out to be. . . the widow of the policeman whom Cal helped destroy. Improbable? Certainly. But MacLaverty is stalwart and light-touched enough to follow it through, to convince us of Cal's love and guilt. Furthermore, when Marcella finally responds to Cal (who has aroused IRA suspicions by his silence and goes to dangerous lengths to be near Marcella), there is a taut wire strung between them: Marcella's need for comfort, her unawareness of his sin; his horror of blurting out one day what he's done. And MacLaverty is especially good at the small, dry-mouthed details of Cal's infatuation, which build minutely - with an added interesting angle of characterization: Cal turns out to be a wittier, more urbane lover than we'd expect, as though freed by love from circumstance. A brief, slightly unbelievable book - nonetheless made rich, affecting, and tangible by the quiet determination of its characters. . . and its storytelling. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Bernard MacLaverty

Bernard MacLaverty was born in Belfast in 1942, and moved to Scotland in 1975. He is the author of the novels Lamb (1980); Cal (1983); Grace Notes (1997); and The Anatomy School (2001), set in Belfast in the late 1960s. Both Lamb and Cal have been made into major films for which he wrote the screenplays, and he has written various versions of his fiction for radio, television and screen. Grace Notes was awarded the 1997 Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award and shortlisted for many other major prizes, including the Booker Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread Novel Award. His books of short stories are Secrets & Other Stories (1977); A Time to Dance & Other Stories (1982); The Great Profundo & Other Stories (1987); Walking the Dog & Other Stories (1994), and most recently, Matters of Life & Death (2006).

Books By Bernard MacLaverty

Cal by Bernard MacLaverty
Paperback, August 2017
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Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty
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Collected Stories by Bernard MacLaverty
Paperback, October 2014
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Matters Of Life & Death by Bernard MacLaverty
Paperback, May 2007
$26.99