By Salt Water

By Salt Water

by Angela Bourke
     
 

Bourke's stories have been published in Ireland and the U. S. She writes with great delicacy and skill, and won the Frank O'Connnor Award for Short Fiction in 1992. In this memorable collection the "salt water"is not only the sea, but tears, sweat, and blood

Overview

Bourke's stories have been published in Ireland and the U. S. She writes with great delicacy and skill, and won the Frank O'Connnor Award for Short Fiction in 1992. In this memorable collection the "salt water"is not only the sea, but tears, sweat, and blood

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In these stories of Ireland and the Irish, Bourke (winner of the 1992 Frank O'Connor Award for Short Fiction) weaves beautiful language in such a way that the silences speak as eloquently as the descriptive passages. While the tales occasionally veer off into familiar coming-of-age territory, skilled writing lifts most of the material and gives it a poignant tinge. Many of Bourke's youthful female narrators are allowing their futures to hinge on unreliable men. In "Deep Down," a woman goes to the small town where she used to spend her summers and has a brief tryst with a boy who was once her babysitting charge. "Dreams of Sailing" details a woman's attempts to lose her virginity. The surprising "Camouflage" at first seems to be about the narrator's journey from Dublin to the North to present her inscrutable boyfriend to her family, but a clever twist reveals the narrowness of the narrator's vision. Irish characters who have lived in the U.S. provide interesting perspectives. In "Ham," a woman is almost ashamed of her excitement over her beloved sister-in-law's return to Ireland, since she is coming back for her own mother's funeral. A series of stories about a girl named Unashe spots a favorite young nun leaving the order in "Secret Passages"; makes a mean-spirited "Beauty Treatment" appointment for a hated teacher; develops a crush on her cousin in "Charm"are among the less inspired. As a whole, however, this is a restrained, intelligent collection with a subtle feel for the pulse of normal life. (May)
Kirkus Reviews
Seventeen engaging tales of love, loss, and redemption with a charming Irish lilt, in a first collection by the 1992 winner of the Frank O'Connor Award for Short Fiction.

Set mostly in small towns along the chilly Irish coastline, these tales explore the lives of girls and young women struggling to learn the nature of life, death, love, and, most especially, the male sex. From "Deep Down," in which a young woman from a farm community flirts with a town boy she once baby-sat, to "Dreams of Sailing," whose quiet college-graduate heroine is involved in a love affair with a man more interested in his new sailboat than in her, to "Le Soleil et Le Vent," in which a widow tries to distract herself from her grief with a visit to relatives in France, the fleeting nature of the women's encounters with love contrast with the eternal quality of the villagers' interactions with the sea. Interspersed among the tales is a series of narratives featuring a girl named Una, whose experiences growing up (including a premature sexual adventure with an adult man and a fascination with a schoolteacher/nun who left her order) allow the author to delve more deeply into the issues of power, sex, and death as a young girl first encounters them. The author's themes are evoked most memorably, though, in "The Whale in the Garden," whose young narrator finds a dead whale on the beach and helps a local spinster bury it in her garden in an effort to clean the skeleton before donating it to a nearby museum—only to see the spinster move away after her ailing father dies, leaving her lovely home untended and the dead whale's fate left to indifferent nature.

More brief slices of life than well-rounded stories, but, still, these tales leave the reader dreaming of chilly coastal winters and warm cups of tea.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781874597391
Publisher:
DUFOUR
Publication date:
05/01/1997
Pages:
168
Product dimensions:
5.47(w) x 8.47(h) x 0.58(d)

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