Creatures of the Earth : New and Selected Stories Paperback
McGahern's command of the short story places him among the finest practitioners of the form, in a lineage that runs from Chekhov through Joyce and the Anglo-American masters.
When the collection was first published in 1992, the "Sunday Times" said 'there is a vivid pleasure to be had in the reading of these stories,' while for Cressida Connolly in the "Evening Standard" 'these wonderful stories are sad and true...McGahern is undoubtedly a great short story writer.' Many of the stories here are already classics: "Gold Watch", "High Ground" and "Parachutes", among others.
McGahern's spare, restrained yet powerfully lyrical language draws meaning from the most ordinary situations, and turns apparently undramatic encounters into profoundly haunting events: a man visits his embittered father with his new wife; an ageing priest remembers a funeral he had attended years before; a boy steals comics from a shop to escape the rain-bound melancholy of a seaside holiday; an ageing teacher, who has escaped a religious order, wastes his life in a rural backwater that he knows he will never leave.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 416 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 05/07/2007
- Category: Short stories
- ISBN: 9780571237852
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Review by mackthefinger
Wonderful collection by the last great Irish writer. The storiesare beautifully crafted and the people that inhabit them arerealised with perfect details. It's difficult to pick out a favouritefrom this book. The two new additions, 'Love of the world' and 'Creatures of the earth' stand easily alongside the earlier works.Of course a lot of small town Ireland has changed since McGahernwrote these, but the themes remain the same. He wasn't just a writerof rural life though - stories such as 'Sierra Leone' 'My love, my umbrella'capture perfectly for me what living in the city was like, though it's an older Dublin. A lot of these characters are living under the shadow of unhappiness, a restrictive church, unhappy family life or difficult relationships but they get on with their lives in the best way they can. McGahern never seems to judge his characters either, ifanything he's sympathetic to their lives of unfulfilled dreams and missedchances. As you'd expect, the sentences are crisp and full of grace, calmand distinctive. One of the things I love about McGahern's style is the way he lets the story unfold, the little details come forth, then occasionally steps in to show something of a larger truth.A collection that for me is up alongside the greats of the short story genre.