Island: The Complete Stories

Alistair MacLeod, Author W. W. Norton & Company $25.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-393-05035-6
HCollected in one edition for the first time, the 16 short stories of Canadian writer MacLeod (No Great Mischief) span 30 years of his career and brilliantly evoke the lives of the people of his native Cape Breton Island. The place itself is conjured as a characterDthe stories are anchored by descriptive passages of lobster fishing, the gray waves of the Atlantic, the deep freeze of winter and the Nova Scotian dawn. Coming-of-age experiences are rendered through pivotal moments: ""The Return"" describes a first-time visit to the island through the eyes of a 10-year-old boy, and ""In the Fall"" evokes an incident on a family farm and a boy's growing comprehension of the things that are out of his parents' control. ""Second Spring""Dthe only story to hit a comic note in the often somber collectionDis the tale of a seventh-grade boy's desire to breed the perfect calf. One of MacLeod's hallmarks is the nesting of tales within tales: in ""The Road to Rankin's Point,"" a dying young man who returns to his grandmother's house high among the island's treacherous cliffs relays the earlier story of his grandfather's death and the harsh but determined life that followed. Themes of family, work, superstition and Scottish tradition enlarge these beautifully crafted stories. (Feb.) Forecast: McLeod made it onto public radar screens with the much-heralded publication earlier this year of his first novel, No Great Mischief, but he was included on the Modern Library's list of the 200 greatest writers in English since 1950 solely on the basis of his stories. Fans of the novel will likely approach Island as something new, since the original two collections reissued here in one volume are out of print. Expect healthy sales.
Reviewed on: 02/26/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 23 pages - 978-0-920633-66-3
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