Fishing the Sloe-Black River

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Overview

The short fiction of Colum McCann documents a dizzying cast of characters in exile, loss, love, and displacement. There is the worn boxing champion who steals clothes from a New Orleans laundromat, the rumored survivor of Hiroshima who emigrates to the tranquil coast of Western Ireland, the Irishwoman who journeys through America in search of silence and solitude. But what is found in these stories, and discovered by these characters, is the astonishing poetry and peace found in the mundane: a memory, a scent on ...

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Fishing the Sloe-Black River: Stories

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Overview

The short fiction of Colum McCann documents a dizzying cast of characters in exile, loss, love, and displacement. There is the worn boxing champion who steals clothes from a New Orleans laundromat, the rumored survivor of Hiroshima who emigrates to the tranquil coast of Western Ireland, the Irishwoman who journeys through America in search of silence and solitude. But what is found in these stories, and discovered by these characters, is the astonishing poetry and peace found in the mundane: a memory, a scent on the wind, the grace in the curve of a street. Fishing the Sloe-Black River is a work of pure augury, of the channeling and re-spoken lives of people exposed to the beauty of the everyday.

The 12 gems in this collection are about oddballs and outcasts, Irish misfits all. These stories are peopled by such characters as an anorexic nun, a garrulous beautician who likes to prettify corpses, and the weathered boxing champ fond of stealing frilly feminine items. "Wistful and graceful, strong and sure, Colum McCann writes with skill and sadness and sparkling poetry."--Scott Veale, The New York Times Book Review.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review

A gifted and determined stylist, Colum McCann seems to have taken a vow never to write a dull line.
San Francisco Chronicle

Rich, powerful stories that place McCann at the front ranks of contemporary Irish writers.
The Washington Post Book World

Beautiful...These well-made stories, written with fierce beauty, are sure of their effect and power.
The Baltimore Sun

There is magic in this McCann, and he brings to each page a special sorcery with the voices he conjures....No one can read through and not emerge feeling changed, somehow ennobled by it.
From the Publisher
"A gifted and determined stylist, Colum McCann seems to have taken a vow never to write a dull line." —The New York Times Book Review

"Rich, powerful stories that place McCann at the front ranks of contemporary Irish writers." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Beautiful...These well-made stories, written with fierce beauty, are sure of their effect and power." —The Washington Post Book World

"There is magic in this McCann, and he brings to each page a special sorcery with the voices he conjures....No one can read through and not emerge feeling changed, somehow ennobled by it." —The Baltimore Sun

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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 epiphanyas 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.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312423384
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 2/1/2004
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 398,172
  • Product dimensions: 5.49 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Colum McCann

Colum McCann is the author of books including This Side of Brightness, Zoli, Songdogs and Let the Great World Spin. He has received the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, a Pushcart Prize, and was named the first winner of the Grace Kelly Memorial Foundation Award and the Princess Grace Memorial Literary Award. He lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Sisters 1
Breakfast for Enrique 25
A Basket Full of Wallpaper 39
Through the Field 55
Stolen Child 71
Step We Gaily, On We Go 89
A Word in Edgewise 113
From Many, One 129
Fishing the Sloe-Black River 135
Around the Bend and Back Again 141
Along the Riverwall 173
Cathal's Lake 185
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Customer Reviews

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