Fishing the Sloe-Black River

Colum McCann, Author Metropolitan Books $22 (0p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4106-4
Following his U.S. debut in the highly praised Songdogs, McCann's first collection of short stories is now published here, three years after its initial U.K. appearance. These are 12 exceptionally crafted and thought-provoking tales, in which we glimpse not only the immediate world of the characters but also a good deal of their origins and ancestry. This makes for rich, multilayered work, as in the opening story, ""Sisters,"" which spans about 30 years in the life of a bitter woman who says, ""My promiscuity was my autograph,'' while her anorexic sister became a nun. The moving ""A Word in Edgewise"" captures a lifetime with poignant detail and delicate timing. Some stories recall Raymond Carver in their directness, told in local vernacular and exposing a passing, vital revelation or epiphany--as in ""Through The Field,"" in which a teenage murderer reveals his sole fear. Others are allegorical and surreal, like the melancholy title piece, which takes a new turn on the age-old scourge of emigration. Or ""Cathal's Lake,"" where the souls of war victims from Northern Ireland are reborn as swans on a quiet rural waterway. In ""Around the Bend and Back Again,"" we ponder not only the tragedy of a fragile girl but also the crucial tension between employment and environmentalism in an Irish town. Set in diverse locations ranging from urban New Orleans to rural Ireland, and encompassing the lives of a startling range of cultures and characters, this superlative collection shows an impeccable command of style and language. Highly regarded in Ireland, McCann should begin to command a wide readership here. Rights: Robin Straus Agency . (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1996
Release date: 11/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-8050-4107-1
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-312-42338-4
Hardcover - 184 pages - 978-1-897580-21-9
Hardcover - 184 pages - 978-1-897580-61-5
Paperback - 190 pages - 978-0-7538-0536-7
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-4668-4868-9
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