The Collected Stories

The Collected Stories

by Clare Boylan
     
 
Two decades of short fiction from a great Irish storyteller: "An imagination that transmutes reality into the stuff of magic." —Sunday Telegraph.

The Irish writer Clare Boylan has been publishing compelling and captivating work for over twenty years. Though she is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, she remains one of the most original and

Overview

Two decades of short fiction from a great Irish storyteller: "An imagination that transmutes reality into the stuff of magic." —Sunday Telegraph.

The Irish writer Clare Boylan has been publishing compelling and captivating work for over twenty years. Though she is the author of six critically acclaimed novels, she remains one of the most original and exciting short-story writers of our time. Like Alistair MacLeod, Alice Munro, and her compatriot William Trevor, her stories are universal. Hers is an imagination that is able, magically and marvelously, to transform everyday experience into something quite unexpected.

As perceptive as Colette, as darkly witty as Dorothy Parker, she waves a flag for the dispossessed and the marginalized and gleefully pulls love from behind its romantic façade. She makes the reader laugh out loud while at the same time compelling an uncomfortable self-examination. Plumbing the inner workings of marriage, aging, family dynamics, and the cost of love, her richly sardonic humor and acutely merciless observations may seem gentle, but look again, for they are edged with razors.

Celebrating twenty years of rare accomplishment, The Collected Stories introduces American readers to a luminous and unforgettable writer of short fiction.

Author Biography: Clare Boylan is the author of three volumes of short stories and six novels, the most recent being Beloved Stranger. She lives in Ireland.

Editorial Reviews

Observer (London)
Glimmering, lyrical prose.
Publishers Weekly
Irish writer Boylan is better known as a novelist (Beloved Stranger, etc.), but this collection of 38 short stories is a pleasing showcase for her quirky plotting and deceptively simple, smooth prose style. The shorter stories are more effective, most notably "My Son the Hero," in which a mother decides that her doltish adult son has committed a murder and takes matters into her own hands. "The Stolen Child" offers a series of musings on the nature of babies after a woman indulges her fascination with infants by briefly kidnapping the child of a woman with seven bratty, out-of-control kids. "The Little Madonna" takes a broader perspective on the issue of children, as an older woman offers a series of thought-provoking ruminations on how modern sexuality has affected child raising after she sees a tabloid story about the birth of a "perfect" baby girl. The longer stories are less consistent, as Boylan tends to rapidly change direction and pursue divergent narrative lines, losing control of her intriguing conceits. Her odd, conceptual approach to the art of the short story is something of an acquired taste, but these tales trace the development of her Patricia Highsmith-like tone and meticulous storytelling. Though her range is narrow, she is an appealing and idiosyncratic chronicler of the quirks and foibles of the Irish working class. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Acclaimed for her six novels, the Irish-born Boylan is also a gifted short story writer. This book, which is intended as an introduction for American readers, collects previously published pieces written from 1978 to 2000. Boylan usually manages a somewhat different twist on daily life. Her subjects are often people in prosaic situations: couples whose relationships have "gone bad" but who stay together because their options are limited, neighbors whose children worry about appearances, misunderstandings between children and adults, interactions between mothers and sons, families struggling with unique dynamics, and individuals struggling with their aging. In her introduction, Boylan describes her characters as "a consummately Irish collection of anarchists, dreamers, and outsiders," going on to say that while reviewers have described her work as "savage comedy," she prefers to call the stories "tales of life's infinite possibility and the comic grandeur of life's impossible dreams." These observations are apt, and the descriptions that Boylan provides are exquisitely rendered. Recommended for all lovers of the short story medium.-Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, MD Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Drawn from three previous volumes, these 38 stories written over two decades by Irish author Boylan (Beloved Stranger, 2001, etc.) include "Housekeeper's Cut," a town-mouse/country-mouse variation in which town-mouse Edward has an affair with country-mouse Susan. But when she then comes to the city for a visit, predictable tensions arise: Will the injured, symbolic bird they find die or fly away? "Life on Mars" is an odd tale about a woman whose widowhood is compounded first by ghosts, then by the insipid occupants of flying saucers. Equally odd is "The Little Madonna," the rant of a woman fed up with the world as she reads through a newspaper filled with stories of lost children. An opposite motif works in the final piece, "A Model Daughter." A divorcée fabricates a daughter in order to get checks from the unwitting father, and the imaginary daughter is well into womanhood before the father finally demands to meet her, which, naturally, means that our divorcée must hire a call girl to act the part, and we shouldn't be surprised if the scene that ensues comes to resemble a sitcom. Prolific, flexible, and unquestionably talented, but Boylan doesn't aspire to much. Her own introduction says it best: "In my short stories, dreams are fragile gladiators in an arena of hoary old lions of reality."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582432618
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
09/26/2002
Pages:
412
Product dimensions:
5.03(w) x 7.99(h) x 1.04(d)

What People are saying about this

Deborah Moggach
Truly wonderful stories. The words sing on the page. Clare Boylan is in a league of her own.

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