The Great Profundo and Other Stories

Bernard MacLaverty, Author Grove/Atlantic $0 (143p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1048-0
This latest collection of stories from the Glasgow-based novelist (Cal, Lamb) and short story writer (A Time to Dance) offers fine-hewn portrayals of lonely characters on the fringes of society. Set in a wide range of locales from Ireland's deserted coast to mostly sunny Portugal, they present glimpses of suffering, sadness, missed opportunity. Perhaps the most poignant story is ""Words the Happy Say,'' in which a poem by Emily Dickinson almost bridges the inarticulate space between a lonely calligrapher and his customer, a gentle widow. The title story takes us into the shabby world of the carnival faker Profundo, an aging sword swallower, whose trick goes fatally awry as he performs for the amusement of drunken college students. Death is often in the wings in these tales; it is especially palpable in the late-blooming relationship between a successful architect and his father (``Some Surrender''), and in the chilly embrace an old priest welcomes inside his locked church (``Death of a Parish Priest''). Death is confronted directly as a retired policeman-musician, captivated by a young flautist, seeks escape in drink (``Across the Street''). Whether compassionate or ironic, these stories will provoke reflections and wonder. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Ebook - 978-1-84345-106-8
Paperback - 978-0-14-011708-0
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