Jeanette "Astute Crabbist"'s Reviews > Island: The Complete Stories

Island by Alistair MacLeod
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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 with such a quiet beauty about the local people and landscape, as the people go about making a living at fishing, coal mining, raising animals, and so on.

My favorite three stories:

BEST: "Island"----This story knocked my socks off. He managed to get all the elements of a fine novel in a story of only forty-four pages. It's about a woman who is the last in a long family line of lighthouse keepers. It's spooky and beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. I found myself weeping a few pages from the end, and when I finished the story, I couldn't read anything else for hours afterward. I was absolutely stunned, and I still get chills thinking about this story. DAMN! Did I happen to mention this guy can WRITE?! (Are you rolling your eyes at me yet?)

#2) "The Lost Salt Gift of Blood"

#3) "To Everything There is a Season"

There was only one story I wasn't all that thrilled with: "Second Spring." It wasn't terrible, just so-so for me.
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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Julie I so agree. He is a writer of gorgeous, evocative, poetic prose. Why have I not read more...? Thanks for reminding me to put him at the top of the list..


message 2: by Mikki (new) - added it

Mikki I've only now just heard of this book and so of course you read it back in 2008! Oh, Jeanette, I heart you. This might be a must read for me.


Kris You will love this, Mikki. MacLeod is one of my favorite writers. His novels are wonderful, too.


message 4: by Mikki (last edited Sep 25, 2012 06:06PM) (new) - added it

Mikki Kris, though it's wonderful to be introduced to new authors, it does cause me to wonder about all of the many others that I haven't yet discovered!

Chelsea, you know that we're in good hands! :)


message 5: by Barbara (new) - added it

Barbara His son, Alexander MacLeod, is carrying on the tradition. I read his collection Light Lifting and loved it. I learned about his father when I researched that book and keep meaning to read something by him. This sounds like it.


message 6: by Mikki (new) - added it

Mikki Barbara! Though it's good to see you, I've just realized that I'm probably way behind on the stories! I'll make that up this weekend!

I'll add Light Lifting to the never ending short story shelf. Thank you.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Mikki wrote: "I've only now just heard of this book and so of course you read it back in 2008! Oh, Jeanette, I heart you. This might be a must read for me."
How did you finally hear about it? If my life weren't so unpredictable, I'd say we should do a buddy read with this. I've been jonesin' to re-read it for some time now. But my elderly mum is becoming more and more volatile, and it makes it difficult for me to be a reliable reading buddy.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" And Chelsea, I think you're going to love this one. It's the solid kind of writing we just don't see much these days.

Barbara, thanks for the mention of his son's work. Why am I not surprised that his name is Alexander? ;-)


message 9: by Mikki (new) - added it

Mikki Jeanette wrote: "How did you finally hear about it? If my life weren't so unpredictable, I'd say we should do a buddy read with this. I've been jonesin' to re-read it for some time now. But my elderly mum is becoming more and more volatile, and it makes it difficult for me to be a reliable reading buddy.."

Don't worry about being "reliable" because we can just read at a casual pace, whenever we find the time. When I get my hands on a copy then I'll let you know.


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Looking forward to it!


message 11: by Mindy (new) - added it

Mindy Conde This sounds perfect - I always try to have a good book of short stories on hand for those times when you can't fully get into a novel. Thanks for the recommendation - I'm looking forward to getting my hands on this one!


Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist" Ooh, another short-story fan! Hope you enjoy it, Mindy.


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