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Fishing the Sloe-Black River

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  307 ratings  ·  38 reviews
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
Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Picador (first published 1984)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.75* of five

The Publisher Says: 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 p
The audiobook Fishing the Sloe-Black River is a book of 12 short stories, narrated by Clodagh Bowyer, Tim Smallwood, Paul Nugent, Fiana Toibin, Sean Gormley, John Keating and Ed Malone. The Irish patois was perfectly executed by all except for the one story narrated by Ed Malone. Only he failed to space the words and give an intonation that fitted the lines well! I noted how if a narrator emphasizes the wrong words the meaning of the sentence would be messed up! Paul Nugent and Fiana Toibin must ...more
This, McCann's debut short story collection, is the last of his books that I've read, and while not perhaps as consistent as some of his later work, it shows the promise that he has since fulfilled, and has enough in it to make the collection worth reading.

The 12 stories are told mainly in the first person, but are widely varied in content. There are male and female protagonists, both old and young, and settings vary between different areas of USA and Ireland.

Highlights I particularly enjoyed i
A very good story collection, by one of my favorite authors.
What a gem of a book this is! A collection of short stories, mostly set in Ireland. The man can turn a phrase like few other authors. The first story, Sisters has been in my thoughts for the past several days. What amazes me as a reader is that one person can have so many different stories to tell, from such divergent themes. You know that old question if you could have dinner with a famous person who would you choose? I would choose McCann. How did he come up with all these different stories?
I am a huge fan of short stories, and I enjoy the variety of voices found in a collection of stories, as opposed to a novel. That said, it is rare that I am completely taken with every voice presented in a collection, and even more rare that I find individual stories to be as compelling and rich as a good novel. This is probably the best collection of short stories I have encountered to date. Every character is complex and intriguing, and each story involves a twist not easy to accomplish in the ...more
Just finished this collection of story stories and as always, enjoyed his way of telling a story.
Matthew Mckinney
McCann is a gifted wordsmith, but this collection of short stories missed the mark more often than not for me. I'm a plot guy and even though short stories can, at times, be more about tone, texture, and a vivid glimpse into an idea or a character, these collected works didn't quite have the textural "oomph" necessary for me to get over my instinctual focus on story as the most critical element. Pretty at times, yes, memorable and thought-provoking, no.

Molly Ferguson
Some of the stories in this volume are perfection, like "Cathal's Lake," "A Word in Edgewise," and "Around the Bend and back Again". Many of the others were just okay, though. I will be copying about four stories out of this before returning it, so that I have them to re-read.
Collection of short stories. His topics tend to be on the darker side, so it's not an uplifting book but incredibly well-written.
Jan 16, 2008 Thomas rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Thomas by: Aunt Liz
Getting/giving a book that wasn’t asked for by an author you/they don’t know can be pretty tricky, to say the least. A great aunt I love and admire gave me this one Christmas and I had zero interest to crack it open. Eventually I did and I couldn’t stop kicking myself to waiting so long to dig into such a powerful collection of stories. Each story has a unique style, writing voice and McCann can be funny and devastating with equal aplomb in some truly original premises. I was influenced by this ...more
Another Colum McCann piece that I loved so much. He writes so well. He makes the most mundane parts of life into poetic stories. Thanks, Colum. Reading your works always means a page turner!
quite fucking awesome.

seriously, everyone should read this. Only reason it doesn't get 5 stars is because he attempts to use an American voice which really doesn't work in a couple of the stories. But even in those stories, the actual content is awesome. And I hear his later stuff hits the mark much more consistently, which the first two stories in the collection I just started (Everything in this Country Must) seem to bear out...

Anyway. Amazing short stories I highly recommend.
Simply stunning.
A collection of short stories that expertly reveals character and conflict through subtle, yet concise details. McCann’s uncanny powers of manipulating the written word lie best in creating rounded characters that encounter struggles that grow out of their own actions (or mis-actions.) The collection truly highlights the importance and beauty of a well-turned sentence.

My favorite from the collection (and better with every read) is "Step We Gaily, On We Go."
Awful...just plain awful. I hated this book so much i could not finish. First off, i didn't know it was short my fault there because i don't care for short stories to begin with..but the writing style in this book was not for me.
The blurb on the back of the book was so promising..made it seem so incredibly intersting..but nope. nada...awful...have i said this book was awful? :)
I don't know anyone i would recommend this to.
Colum McCann's short stories are as good as his full length fiction. They pull you into the lives of these fascinating (usually Irish) characters and carry you along through stories of love, grief, hardship, and beauty. I particularly liked "Sisters," and "A Basket Full of Wallpaper." The more I read of McCann's work, the higher he goes on my list of favorite writers, and the more he makes me want to write.
Derek Ouyang
A powerful collection of tragedy-torn vignettes from Ireland. There's a bit of a dull rhythm through most of the same, but every now and then there's a touch of magic in the characters that is incredible to read. I'll be following this author more carefully now.
Most of the short stories are worth reading. My favourites are, A basket full full of wallpaper, Step we gaily on we go, and A word in edgewise. Each story leaves an impression. Very memorable characters that I can still recall a week after reading the book.
Jojanneke Bosch
Absolutely colourfully told stories. McCann grasps his characters and taps into their thoughts. In a recent interview, McCann has said that he has had a rather pleasant childhood. If that's true, this means that the man is a truly gifted storyteller.
Jason Linden
These stories are stunning for how simple they are, how beautiful they are, and how surprisingly resonant they are. Colum McCann does not pull punches, but he allows each subject humanity.
Great right before bed, I love short stories for pre bed time reading. And these are good they remind me of what Bono once said about not knowing he was Irish until he came to the U.S.
Very fine stories here. Do know that many of them are about Irish in America, rather than in Ireland. Perfectly valid topic, of course, but might not be what you're in the mood for.
This is a collection of twelve stories, each intriguing in its own way. The characters are all escentric, rather isolated people, and all very likeable. I enjoyed these very much!
Catherine Siemann
Some of these short stories are near-perfect ("Sisters", "A Basket Full of Wallpaper"); others are merely very, very good. Read this.
"Sisters" was excellent, as were "Breakfast For Enrique" and "Cathal's Lake."
Yay for Irish and Irish-American people and angst.
I read this before Let the Great World Spin. It's an early work but his talent and lyrical prose are already there.
Julia Saldivia
My interest level was hit or miss on this collection of stories, nothing truly captivated my attention.
Wonderful to read the early work (30 years ago) of an author for whom I have so much respect.
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Colum McCann is the author of two collections of short stories and four novels, including "This Side of Brightness,""Dancer" and “Zoli,” all of which were international best-sellers. His newest novel “Let the Great World Spin” will come out in 2009. His fiction has been published in 26 languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Paris Review and other places. He has wri ...more
More about Colum McCann...
Let the Great World Spin TransAtlantic Dancer Zoli This Side of Brightness

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