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Fishing the Sloe-Black River

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  392 Ratings  ·  47 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, 196 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Picador (first published 1984)
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Richard Derus
Nov 16, 2011 Richard Derus rated it liked it
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
Mar 07, 2013 Chrissie rated it it was ok
Shelves: usa, short, ireland, audible, alt
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
Nov 22, 2013 Allan rated it really liked it
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
Regina Lindsey
It is very hard for me to rate this book. If I rated in on how much I enjoyed it the rating would be a 2. But, if rating it on the merit it deserves I would have to assign 4. I went with merit.

This is my first read of McCann's work. It is evident he is certainly a talented storyteller and adept writer. The collection of short stories were sweeping, most written from a first person point of view. and he nails the voice each and every time. Even thought most of the stories are set in Ireland a few
May 25, 2014 Michelle rated it it was amazing
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?
Jun 29, 2014 Erin rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 07, 2016 Dermot rated it it was amazing
In my opinion, one of the best collection of modern Irish short stories you are going to find. These haunting stories linger with you long after you've read them. He writes beautifully and uniquely, but it never gets in the way of the actual story. There are touches of magic realism too, enough to make some of the stories quirky and distinct. This is a book you can come back to, again and again and randomly pick any story, they are all so good.
Molly Ferguson
Jun 03, 2014 Molly Ferguson rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 09, 2010 Greta rated it really liked it
Just finished this collection of story stories and as always, enjoyed his way of telling a story.
Jul 07, 2014 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: story-collection
A very good story collection, by one of my favorite authors.
Feb 13, 2017 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
*3.75 stars.
“He was a sailor. He smelled of ropes and disuse and seaport harridans” (2).
“She was a house of bones, my sister…” (3).
“The cabin was up a drunken mountain road” (7).
“This time with my eyes closed, hands to the ground and nothing to watch me from my fingerhouse” (7).
“All I knew of Central America was dogs leaner than her” (11).
“...and rumors were flung around according to the depths of the whiskey bottle…” (52).
“You could drown him just by spitting on him” (57).
“Nearly all the kids,
Jan 16, 2008 Thomas rated it really liked it
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
Aug 06, 2016 Lizzie added it
I can't rate this book because I can't do it justice. The writing reminds me of Cormac McCarthy: sparse, tense, haunting. Yet, as I read these short stories, I find myself re-reading them again and again (I read Through the Field three times), I feel like I'm missing something.

I may need to re read this another year and try to understand his clearly more intelligent mind.

I may also just keep re-reading it for the rest of the summer. It's dark and tense, but also beautiful in its own way - like
Nov 30, 2009 Tim rated it really liked it
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.
Valerie W
Dec 26, 2015 Valerie W rated it liked it
The writing in these stories is wonderful as always. It is poetic, vivid and full of literary devices, reminiscent of that in his later books like Thirteen Ways of Looking and Let The Great World Spin. The characters, too, are revealed to be colorful, rich and interesting. Many of the stories are about trying to solve small mysteries in life and the process of discovery and growth.

My largest complaint is that I found some of the subject matter a bit too solemn. In addition, they seemed to lack
Jan 01, 2014 Christina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
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.
Feb 14, 2013 Joseph rated it really liked it
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."
Matthew Mckinney
Apr 01, 2014 Matthew Mckinney rated it it was ok
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.

Jul 17, 2013 Emily rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 21, 2015 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
Short stories by one of my favorite authors. Many of the stories are set in Ireland. Some are more fully developed; some read more like character sketches. I liked "A Word in Edgewise" and "Around the Bend and Back Again".
Jojanneke Bosch
Mar 13, 2013 Jojanneke Bosch rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 21, 2015 Kathy rated it it was amazing
The story A Word in Edgewise is pure perfection. Ah, to have had a friend like that with me through life.

This is so good I just can't see why AS the Great World Spins has been his most popular.
Derek Ouyang
Dec 30, 2013 Derek Ouyang rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 29, 2012 George rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 31, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it
I read this before Let the Great World Spin. It's an early work but his talent and lyrical prose are already there.
"Sisters" was excellent, as were "Breakfast For Enrique" and "Cathal's Lake."
Yay for Irish and Irish-American people and angst.
Jul 14, 2016 Robert rated it really liked it
Reading his long novels is best - but these short stories come close. Exquisite writing. Almost without exception, I wanted each of the stories to go and give me the FULL novel.
Peter Knox
Apr 07, 2010 Peter Knox rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
great collection of short stories - very poetic.
Dec 31, 2014 Theresa rated it really liked it
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!
Julia Saldivia
My interest level was hit or miss on this collection of stories, nothing truly captivated my attention.
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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
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“Give life long enough and it will solve all your problems, including the one of being alive.” 16 likes
“All this miraculous hatred. Christ, a man can't eat his breakfast for filling his belly full of it.” 1 likes
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