Fishing the Sloe-Black River (McCann)

I love McCann’s work. These  short stories are sharper than his more modern work, perhaps because of the form, perhaps because he was still finding his way. Either way, in the broad strokes that short stories often require, McCann presents evocative glimpses into the Irish, both in Ireland and in the United States. The images he conjures – a man throwing a bicycle tire into a river, another man wallpapering and wallpapering (and wallpapering) the inside of his house – are poignant and, in such a short space, assured and credible. A number of the stories revolve around those who work with people who are mentally challenged in some way (suggesting a previous job of McCann’s?), and he renders these characters as sensitive and active human beings.

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