Island: The Complete Stories

Island The Complete Stories The genius of his stories is to render his fictional world as timeless Colm T ib nThe sixteen exquisitely crafted stories in Island prove Alistair MacLeod to be a master Quietly precisely he has cre

  • Title: Island: The Complete Stories
  • Author: Alistair MacLeod
  • ISBN: 9780393341188
  • Page: 395
  • Format: Paperback
  • The genius of his stories is to render his fictional world as timeless Colm T ib nThe sixteen exquisitely crafted stories in Island prove Alistair MacLeod to be a master Quietly, precisely, he has created a body of work that is among the greatest to appear in English in the last fifty years.A book besotted patriarch releases his only son from the obligations of the se The genius of his stories is to render his fictional world as timeless Colm T ib nThe sixteen exquisitely crafted stories in Island prove Alistair MacLeod to be a master Quietly, precisely, he has created a body of work that is among the greatest to appear in English in the last fifty years.A book besotted patriarch releases his only son from the obligations of the sea A father provokes his young son to violence when he reluctantly sells the family horse A passionate girl who grows up on a nearly deserted island turns into an ever wistful woman when her one true love is felled by a logging accident A dying young man listens to his grandmother play the old Gaelic songs on her ancient violin as they both fend off the inevitable The events that propel MacLeod s stories convince us of the importance of tradition, the beauty of the landscape, and the necessity of memory.

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    About " Alistair MacLeod "

  • Alistair MacLeod

    When MacLeod was ten his family moved to a farm in Dunvegan, Inverness County on Nova Scotia s Cape Breton Island After completing high school, MacLeod attended teacher s college in Truro and then taught school He studied at St Francis Xavier University between 1957 and 1960 and graduated with a BA and B.Ed He then went on to receive his MA in 1961 from the University of New Brunswick and his PhD in 1968 from the University of Notre Dame A specialist in British literature of the nineteenth century, MacLeod taught English for three years at Indiana University before accepting a post in 1969 at the University of Windsor as professor of English and creative writing During the summer, his family resided in Cape Breton, where he spent part of his time writing in a cliff top cabin looking west towards Prince Edward Island.


  • Reviewed in 2012Although 'Island’ is clearly fiction, I prefer to imagine this collection of stories as the portrait of a community and its history and traditions, as if Alastair MacLeod were in reality a social geographer in the mode of Henry Glassie and had collected these stories from the people of his community and then retold them in his own words. And I say ‘his’ community not only because I know he grew up on Cape Breton Island but also because of the love of the people, the animals [...]

  • If you are a writer, and I know a lot of you are, or you just like beautifully written prose then this collection of short stories by Alistair MacLeod is for you. To the writer; MacLeod has way of combining the elements of writng: description, dialogue, action, etc into single passages, sometimes sentences. And he does this in a way that makes his prose extremely tight and fluid which moves his narratives forward in a cinematic fashion. I read in an interview with MacLeod that he is meticulous a [...]

  • April 21, 2014: Rest in peace, Alistair MacLeod. Died April 20, 2014. I have been meaning to re-read this collection since I first read it almost six years ago. Now is a good time for me to do that, in memory of this extraordinary storyteller.YOWZA, this guy can write! Holy prose, Batman! 4.5 stars for this beauty of a book.This is a collection of sixteen stories, published between 1968 and 1999. All of the stories take place on or near the author's native Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He writes wit [...]

  • Alistair MacLeod is not prolific, just a novel and these collected short stories on his shelf. Sixteen stories spread over 31 years. Perhaps he takes every other year off or maybe he has a ‘real’ job. More likely, he anguishes over every sentence, treated like his own child, because the result is a kind of perfection. There is craftsmanship here such that you can really let the book fall open and randomly start to read any paragraph and just be overwhelmed with the lushness of the styling. Y [...]

  • This is just a short but important note in relation to this book which I have read in the last year.It simply contains the best writing I have read in the last year.I was devastated to learn he (MacLeod) had recently died. It's like this has taken one of the top runners out of the Best Writing in The World Marathon out of contention. There is a novel. I am saving it for Christmas. If you have not read these stories please put them on your list. They are one of life's secret and ever giving rewar [...]

  • Macleods's redinditions of Cape Breton - from landscape to weather, to smells, sounds and attitudes. But I felt kind of boxed in (like the miners in his stories) in that narrow environment. All the stories seemed to hover around leaving the island and returning ad miners dying horrible deaths. I have put away the book at the halfway mark, looking for some variety elsewhere before I return to it. I get Cape bretton at the halfway mark - why do I need to go further?

  • Every story in this collection is beautifully written and, taken together, makes an argument for Alistair MacLeod as one of the very best craftsmen of the short story. I'm mystified -- and a little embarrassed -- that I'd never heard of him. He has a wonderful ear for language and an uncommon ability to give his writing a sense of depth and wisdom. He knows people--actually, it's more accurate to say that he knows a certain kind of people. He anchors all of his stories in the history and culture [...]

  • Beautiful and heartbreaking, many of these stories will stay with me for a long, long time. It took a while to read because I needed to take a break and breath, allow the images, characters and events to swirl and settle before I could move on. The Vastness of the Dark, The Closing Down of Summer, Island, To Everything There is a Season, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood, Second Spring.ough the themes of mining, farming, tradition, death, family repeat in the setting of Cape Breton, each story is fres [...]

  • 1968 The Boat SEALife’s dreams – sacrifice these for family.Father: heavy smoking, voracious reader, light sleeper, disorderly roomMother; taditional Cape Breton. Disdains disorder, books, childrens’ choice to leave Cape Breton and the seaSon: Only boy. All kids love father and books. He comes to understand sacrifices father has made for family. Ultimate sacrifice. Narrator now a professor in MN, alone, heavy smoker1971 The Vastness of the Dark MINING18 year old leaving Cape Breton [...]

  • I read this this past summer due to a round-about recommendation from a friend. Loved the book then. Gave it five stars here but didn't write a review but did recommend it to my main book group which voted to read it for November.Update: November 12, 2010 Started rereading this yesterday with pencil in hand to underline passages and write comments. This is a book where people and place and their way of life are inseparable. Cape Breton Island is the stage on which most of these stories take plac [...]

  • Here are sixteen of the best stories I have ever read. MacLeod ranks among the very best writers of the twentieth century from any country. I have heard him compared to Isaac Babel and John Cheever, both wonderful storytellers. MacLeod is better. He chronicles the lives of the rural Gaelic population of Cape Breton Island on the Atlantic coast of Canada. The world he has created is as exotic, alien, and enchanting as any fantasy realm. Cape Breton, however, really exists. Most of the stories tak [...]

  • Amazing amazing book of short stories. Bring you through a time and a place, through a lifetime, many lifetimes, to a people and a way of being that I'm sure most readers have never thought of before but can relate to nonetheless for the humanness of it.The stories are in chronological order and you can see MacLeod becoming a better and better writer as the years pass. His stories share slices of time that are also entire ways of being. They are short stories but rely on none of the cheap tricks [...]

  • These are some of the most beautiful and elegiac stories I have ever read but I think the fault lies in that I don't believe these are meant to be read in order. This is a collection of all of the short stories MacLeod has ever written organized in chronological order instead of, say, by the original volumes they were printed in with the two unpublished ones at the end. The stories tend to get rather repetitive. It's like listening to variations on a theme with perhaps some variations being too [...]

  • McLeod's writing is exquisite. From the first page where I fell in love with "only the grey corpses on the overflowing ashtray beside my bed bear witness to the extinction of the latest spark and silently await the crushing out of the most recent of their fellows"to the very last, I was hooked. Transported to the world of fishermen, island life, powerful fathers, immmovable mothers, the passing of time, uncontrollable weather, and heartbreak like the tides coming in and out of their lives, this [...]

  • I'm not sure how I feel about this book. It was pleasant and relaxing to read a collection of short stories for a change, but I'm not sure how I feel as it has less of a storyline (as what I am used to). Some stories were interesting, and others were so bland that I fell asleep. The collection of short stories explore life in Nova Scotia and how the people live, which was interesting. It also shows changes to the lifestyle over time. Apart from these two things, I'm not sure if there was somethi [...]

  • Some really eloquent and lovely short stories in this collection. I don't often read short stories and if it wasn't for work I would not have read this but I actually did really enjoy most of the stories. I wouldn't recommend reading them all back to back but spreading them out they were really nice. They do have some very similar themes about life in Nova Scotia and just the bleakness of living in a fishing and mining region when the industries are changing. Lots of males reflecting on life and [...]

  • Just to explain my rating: this book comprises both of Alistair MacLeod's short story collections: 'The Lost Salt Gift of Blood' and 'As Birds Bring Forth the Sun' plus two later, previously uncollected stories. I'd give three stars to the first book, and an unreserved five stars to the second book and additional stories, hence I've gone with four stars for 'Island' as a whole.

  • I would give this collection of short stories six stars if I could. Wonderful tales, evocative of a different time and place. I loved the tension between young and old, traditional and modern, man versus the elements. His evocation of hard work both on the land and underground is both powerful and moving.

  • Currently rereading these stories in anticipation of a trip to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and PEI in a few weeks. MacLeod is a superb writer. Some of the stories are pretty dark, but then I suppose life was sometimes the same for the people living there and making a living in the mines or on the water.

  • Review: An exceptional collection of the quality short stories with poetic character makes this book a great pleasure to read. All the stories bring a reader closer to the beautiful part of the eastern edge of Canada, with its people, their customs and history. Truly a treat.Notes:- The Boat - a story of old fisherman and his son who decides to stay with his father till the end. They work together and eventually the father disappears one moment taken by the waves.- The Vastness of the Dark - a s [...]

  • My Rating: 3.5This was a nice collection of stories. I picked up this book for 79 cents at my local Salvation Army. I never heard of this Canadian writer but I picked it up since I enjoy reading short stories.I am glad I got it. It is a collection of 16 stories that are published from late 60s to late 90s. All of the stories deal with following themes: maintaining family bond, maintaining family traditions, working at mines, fishing, keeping up with farming, speaking and singing in Gaelic langua [...]

  • Exquisite, rich, evocative—It took MacLeod a total of twenty years to finish the sixteen stories contained in this wonderful collection, and it shows. The prose is exquisitely wrought, with a formal but comforting lilt reminiscent of Faulkner and McCarthy in a way, and the stories—almost all of them—are extremely well-conceived and crafted. MacLeod doesn't rush, though; he doesn't just give you the quick excitement, the easy high, but feeds it to you slowly, as sumptuous meals ought to be [...]

  • The stories in this collection cover a time-span of decades, but they are stark and haunting, and will stick in the reader's memory. All of them tell of characters connected to the eastern provinces of Canada, but particularly to Cape Breton Island, where the author himself lived for a long time.The stories reflect the harsh yet fascinating existence of people connected to Celtic traditions and the Gaelic language. They are miners, fisherman, farmers or lighthouse-keepers, eking a living from a [...]

  • Part of my five star rating is sentimental. Alistair McLeod was a beloved Nova Scotia writer who has recently passed away. However, his writing has been acclaimed throughout the English-speaking world and translated into several languages. He won the IMPAC award for "No Great Mischief"and has won other awards as well.To read him is an exquisite pleasure. I offer here a single quote, representative of his entire body of work."A single, white tailed hawk glides silently back and forth, sometimes a [...]

  • Quite possibly the best collection of short stories I have ever read. I started this tome while on a two-month road trip in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada and slowly but surely let these beautiful stories wash over me, helping my soul connect with a people and a place in a way that very few authors are able to do. MacLeod spoke in the voice of the common people - the Scottish and Irish immigrants who came to Eastern Canada to escape famine and poverty only to seek to re-create the pastoral and [...]

  • These stories are beautifully written. The long descriptions of nature are so good that the plants and animals more engaging than the humans. I liked the challenge of working out what he was trying to say with these descriptions which was sometimes obvious but at other times more layered or mysterious. The characters are simply drawn. They don't say much but they say a lot. I love this but I'm left wondering how I am going to connect it for my students who have to use it for a creative writing s [...]

  • This is a stunning collection that paints landscape and character authentic and vital. Each story breaks the reader, and the reader is grateful, for in such breaking comes a deeper understanding. Solid writing, gripping storytelling, exquisite craft. I was enchanted, and these stories will haunt me for some time. Reading MacLeod makes me want to move to a distant island lashed by wind and rain, well, I felt this way prior to picking this up, still, these stories resonated.I simply did not want t [...]

  • The book tells the captivating stories of the “blue collar”, real, “salt of the earth” people who came to and inhabit Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. These are the fictional stories of coal miners, fisherman, farmers, and lighthouse keepers. The stories gave me a strong sense of the place and the people during my recent trip to Cape Breton. The book was greatly enhanced by being there and seeing the places and talking to the local people he was describing. I am already thinking I must plan a r [...]

  • This is stunningly good writing, a real pleasure to read. The stories mostly take place in rural coastal areas of Canada, with vivid surroundings of remote cliffs, blowing wind and snow, drifting sea-ice, and fishing boats. They engage with a struggle between the romanticism and the hardships and isolation of traditional life in the fishing boats or in the mines or tending a remote lighthouse, in a way that is profound but offers no easy answers, and doesn't get in the way of the feeling of simp [...]

  • As brilliant a writer as MacLeod is, I struggled with this compendium of 16 previously published short stories. MacLeod seems only to tell one story - and this one story of loss (of people, of place, of time) although beautifully evoked is a total downer. If you have read "No Great Mischief", you will recognize the cannibalization of several situations from these stories. Chicken or egg, I don't know, but I could have used some lightness at times.

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