Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Though better known on these shores as a novelist, Toibin (Brooklyn) here proves his mastery of the too-often-dismissed short story form. Each narrative is an all-encompassing world that will stop readers on their axis and cause them to reconsider the suddenness, ecstasy, and isolation of human connection in settings as divergent as 19th-century England and post-9/11 Spain. (LJ 11/15/10) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Toibin returns to his native shores from Brooklyn for the bulk of these nine pristine stories, all-save one-contemporary tales of lives haunted by loss, whether it's the legacy of a sexually abusive priest in an already complicated love triangle in "The Pearl Fishers," the long-absent gay son who returns to Dublin from New York to attend to his mother's last moments in "One Minus One," or the aching void that greets an academic's return to a family home on the Irish coast in the wistful title story. Affairs, airports, and deathbeds populate a mature prose that's as tender with descriptions of sexual, often gay, love as it is with the heart's more inexpressible reaches, never more so than in the complex "The Street," where two Pakistanis find love in the repressive backdrop of blue-collar Barcelona only to be met with violence and a curious captivity. These stories go a long way toward establishing Toibin as heir to William Trevor, with reverberations that show how life encompasses more than the living. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This work conveys a remarkable cohesion for a collection of previously published stories. Each tale focuses on people who reckon transformative events from their pasts, or rather, are transformed by remembering. Toibin's characteristically lyrical prose seems even more elegantly economical in this volume; this spareness enhances the beauty, sometimes aching, that emerges from observations and dialog. In "The Street," for example, Toibin's tender rendering of the thoughts and routines of a wounded Pakistani man convalescing in a dim, dark garret in Barcelona transmits both the isolation and longing that run through each story like distant birdsong, palpable yet barely perceived. Verdict In this triumphant follow-up to his award-winning novel Brooklyn, Toibin exhibits his familiar stylistic simplicity while extending his emotional reach and range in surprising ways. There's a mastery of romantic eroticism that calls to mind Camus's lush lyricism in "Return to Tipasa" and Exile and the Kingdom, as well as the seductive strangeness of Katherine Ann Porter's best-known short stories. For all readers of fiction. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 8/10.]-J. Greg Matthews, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* In The Master (2004), Tóibín exhibited a talent for fictionalizing a well-known historical person, in that case, American literary icon Henry James. Silence, the lead story in Tóibín's new collection of stories, not only borrows Henry James but also re-exhibits Tóibín's ability to instill life and contemporary interest into historical figures. This story, a greatly imaginative perspective on the genesis of one of James' stories, is a literary triumph, and even if the other stories in the collection were subpar in comparison, which they are not, this story would give the collection its star rating. Another early place to look when opening these pages is a Spanish sequence Barcelona, 1975, The New Spain, and The Street that captures from a wide range of viewing angles and, in the author's trademark clear, unobtrusive style, the changing cultural attitudes in post-Franco Spain. The Pearl Fishers teaches us one man's lesson in realizing he would not trade his single life for the easy rituals of mutuality and closeness of a married couple he knows. This book, then, is short story writing as dazzling yet serious as it is practiced today.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2010 Booklist