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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Mothers and Sons

I shy away from short stories, not sure why because I often like them once I give them a chance. These nine stories are about poor communication and missed connections. There are some awful secrets being kept, alcoholism, pedophilia, debt. These are about adult relationships in which there is something essential lacking. They are what they are and cannot be changed because there is too much history involved. An elderly woman discovers that her son, a priest, is a pedophile. A young man attends his mother's funeral and ends up having drunken sex with one of his close male friends. A burglar steals some important paintings and is nearly brought down by his alcoholic mother who talks too much in the pub.The novella A Long Winter sticks with me. Unlike the other stories it is not set in Ireland. A family lives a modest life in a small mountain town in Spain. When her husband denies her the alcohol she craves the mother leaves her family. A snowstorm occurs and father and son must approach their neighbours for help. We learn that they are estranged from their neighbours and from each other. As the winter drags on Miquel, the son, learns a lot about what has been missing all along. I liked the stories, although they cover some very difficult terrain, and look forward to reading Toibin’s novels soon.

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