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The Lost Salt Gift of Blood

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  545 ratings  ·  55 reviews
The stories of The Lost Salt Gift of Blood are remarkably simple – a family is drawn together by shared and separate losses, a child’s reality conflicts with his parents’ memories, a young man struggles to come to terms with the loss of his father.

Yet each piece of writing in this critically acclaimed collection is infused with a powerful life of its own, a precision of la
Paperback, 168 pages
Published July 1st 1989 by New Canadian Library (first published 1976)
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4.29  · 
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 ·  545 ratings  ·  55 reviews

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Dec 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this book more than five stars. It's the best book of short stories I've read this year, by far. This is old school writing, where the author takes his time and establishes a mood and an atmosphere you can almost feel, taste, and touch. All the stories take place in the stark scenery of Cape Breton, which is on the Nova Scotia coast, and all the characters are miners, lighthouse keepers, fishermen, and farmers; all battling the harsh environment of the land they love and stru ...more
Jun 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
In my mind, Alistair MacLeod is one of today's best writers. He doesn't try to grab you with flashy techniques or weird storyline twists or profound social comment. Rather, he's a storyteller, pure and simple. This is a collection of some of his rare short stories that chronicle the lives of people in his native Nova Scotia. They are beautifully crafted and moving in their simplicity. If you enjoy a quiet, yet moving story, well told, I recommend anything written by Alistair MacLeod.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
"It does not matter that some things are difficult. No one has ever said that life is to be easy. Only that it is to be lived." - p. 150 Macleod, The Road to Rankin's Point.
Mar 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Casey Hampton
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star, short-stories
"No one has ever said that life is to be easy, only that it is to be lived." Alistair MacLeod casually drops this observation in the final story "The Road to Rankin's Point." First, the reader is struck by its simplicity, next by its profundity, and lastly by the possibility that it is neither simple nor profound, but rather merely a summation. Whether of life or anthology, the question of attribution I shall leave in your hands.

MacLeod's writing floored me. His competency and use of language is
Marvin Goodman
Sep 03, 2014 rated it liked it
I found this in the way that lots of us semi-literate plodders find books, from an obituary. Before his death in April, 2014, I had not previously been aware of MacLeod or his work. The praise that accompanied his obituary sent me to Amazon, and the only one of his books available (at the time) in Kindle format.

Almost immediately, I found myself recalling E. Annie Proulx's "The Shipping News" as I immersed myself in the stark, bleak environment of MacLeod's North Atlantic coast. I particularly e
Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
Short stories aren't usually my genre of choice, but this is a powerful collection to be sure.
Jeannette McCalla
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A big thank you to Charles for recommending and lending this collection. Every story stayed with me for some time. I couldn't read more than one story a day because they are so powerful.

Bill S.
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh, I love to read original editions from the library stacks and see how an established - indeed, revered - Canadian writer was viewed before (s)he was known!

From the blurb of this first edition:
An exciting new discovery in Canadian fiction . . .
Born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, Alistair MacLeod grew up in the coal-mining areas of Alberta and the farming areas of Dunvegan and Inverness, Nova Scotia.
Educated at St. Francis Xavier University, the University of New Brunswick and Notre Dame U
Emily Chan
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"no one has ever said that life is to be easy, only that it is to be lived."
i'm not a fan of short stories but i must admit that this is very well written, with the fact that the author has the ability to make you feel the whole atmosphere of the story. it talks a lot about the theme of family as well when the characters are all away from home and it described the connections between parents and children. we are also able to feel the emotions that were being expressed in the whole story really w
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great collection of short stories by a masterful writer, and great example of how less can be more... Especially when each word is so well chosen. Also an evocative snapshot of the working people of the Atlantic provinces. Loved this book!
Kate Vargas
Nov 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of simple, daily, remote stories. Love of any kind, weekness, strenghts and deep moments and situations.
I wish i would have read it in english, the translation to Spanish generates certain distractions on the way..
Xuankang Lin
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I only like the "The Boat" chapter.
Roxanne Bedard-Saucier
Feb 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-bookshelf
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Jilly Hanson
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Made me miss home. I understand the need to leave, but also the desire to return to what is familiar and comforting.
Oct 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
There is just so much emotion in the last piece which had my heart crying silently for a while.
Kristine Morris
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian
No Great Mischief is a favourite novel of mine. This collection of stories doesn't disappoint, but man, Macleod's writing is sad and harsh. But beautiful.
Andrew Davis
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A very slim volume of seven short stories, all set in Nova Scotia. It took seven years to write, but with what result. Pity the author has passed away as he deserved a Noble prize in literature. One of the best collections of short stories I've read. Someone called this set stunning. I don't think it was any exaggeration.
Three of the stories deserve special mention:
- In the Fall - a story of friendship between an ex-mine horse and the miner and his family. Description of the animal's trust towa
Stephen Lawlor
Nov 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
What can one say about Alistair Macleod, i mean really. He is excellent. I loved No Great Mischief, and frankly I'm not much of a short story reader, but thanks to Katherine Fawcett's Little Washer of Sorrows I have started to read some. There is such a vivid picture of time and place in these stories. You can almost smell the fires burning in the homes, and feel the cold breath coming from the characters as they shiver in the cold, and deal with real life decisions - Hunger, shelter, and well b ...more
Jul 25, 2016 rated it liked it
This book really wasn't my cup of tea. I chose it simply because I wanted a taste of Alistair MacLeod's work as I had not read it before. While each essay was immensely descriptive and there were a handful of sentences that made me stop and think, (e.g. "No one has ever said that life is to be easy. Only that is is to be lived." - pg. 150) I still wasn't able to embrace this collection of short stories as a whole. A friend of mine was a student of Mr. MacLeod's and had told me what a kind-hearte ...more
Nancy Croth
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Short stories are generally not my thing but this collection blew me away!!!! While I love a fast-paced, plot-driven read, I also relish the beauty of the written word which creates, for me, a lushness in the reading experience. Yes, there is a 'plot' weaving through each of these essays but it is not the raison d'etre of the story. The development of character and 'place' in each story is stunning! Descriptively, this is one of the best books I have read!!!
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ncl, owned-books
Not being able to obtain a book that I was going to read with the NCL group here on Goodreads, I decided instead to read this one.
Some of the stories I had read before in another collection but still I enjoyed re-reading them. Of the ones new to me, each one I enjoyed, both the story and the quality of the writing.
MacLeod has a keen eye for the everyday things of Maritime Canada, and the people and complexities that bind them. My especial favourite was The Boat.
May 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
these stories are gems. although separate, they seem to be part of a whole. they capture in wonderful prose the life and locale of Cape Breton, Newfoundland -- a beautiful and obscure site of miners and fishermen still connected to their roots in the Old Country. He spent seven years on these seven stories, and it shows in the perfection of every sentence.
Sep 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I relate a lot to the second story for that I also come from a small place thought as poor and undeveloped. I'm lucky to leave there and come to the capital of my own country. But I never felt any sense of belonging during my 4 years here in this big city.
The last part the the second story on how you view outsiders touched me deeply and I can feel an urge to go back.
Sep 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Almost all of these stories teeter on the brink of sentimentality, with a couple crossing the precipice, but on the whole they're pretty crushing, despairing looks at the internal suffering of a disparate group of people.
Sep 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sarah by: Harriet's mom
Cape Breton, a Canadian maritime province, is immortalized by famous Canadian author A. MacLeod. The short stories are cold, dark, and depressing, but full of excellent imagery and a great way to understand the Scottish/Irish culture on these islands. Easy read.
May 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
It's been awhile since I read it, but I do remember that these short stories blew me away. All set in eastern Canada, they very subtly and quietly capture the challenges, tragedies and joys of life on the island, and maybe just life, period.
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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 ...more
“And I am overwhelmed now by the awfulness of over-simplification. For now I realize that not only have I been guilty of it through this long and burning day but also through most of my yet young life and it is only now that I am doubly its victim that I begin to vaguely understand. For I had somehow thought that ‘going away’ was but a physical thing. And that it had only to do with movement and with labels like the silly ‘Vancouver’ that I had glibly rolled from off my tongue; or with the crossing of bodies of water or with the boundaries of borders. And because my father told me I was ‘free’ I had foolishly felt that it was really so. Just like that. And I realize now that the older people of my past are more complicated than perhaps I had ever thought. And that there are distinctions between my sentimental, romantic grandfather and his love for coal, and my stern and practical grandmother her hatred of it; and my quietly strong but passive mother and the souring extremes of my father’s passionate violence and the quiet power of his love. They are all so different. Perhaps it is possible I think now to be both and yet to see only one. For the man in whose glassed-in car I now sit sees only similarity. For him the people of this multi-scarred little town are reduced to but a few phrases and the act of sexual intercourse. They are only so many identical goldfish leading identical, incomprehensible lives within the glass prison of their bowl. And the people on the street view me from behind my own glass in much the same way and it is the way that I have looked at others in their ‘foreign licence’ cars and it is the kind of judgment that I myself have made. And yet it seems that neither these people nor this man are in any way unkind and not to understand does not necessarily mean that one is cruel. But one should at least be honest. And perhaps I have tried too hard to be someone else without realizing at first what I presently am. I do not know. I am not sure. But I do know that I cannot follow this man into a house that is so much like the one I have left this morning and go down into the sexual embrace of a woman who might well be my mother. And I do not know what she, my mother, may be like in the years to come when she is deprived of the lighting movement of my father’s body and the hammered pounding of his heart. For I do not know when he may die. And I do not know in what darkness she may cry out his name nor to whom. I do not know very much of anything, it seems, except that I have been wrong and dishonest with others and myself. And perhaps this man has left footprints on a soul I did not even know that I possessed.” 4 likes
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