By Bernard MacLaverty
This is the story of a young man burdened by guilt for his part in the Troubles while finding love with a woman who has suffered a violent bereavement.
“He stubbed his cigarette out with more pressure than was required and turned over to go to sleep. But it was too quiet. Now and again he raised his head off the pillow and listened. Once a dog barked in the distance. Then another and another, from different farms. And just as suddenly they stopped and the silence returned. He listened so hard there was a kind of static in his ears - like listening to the sea in a shell. He expected whispering voices, the squeak of a rubber-soled shoe on their concrete path. He had heard on the radio once that the Universe had started with an unimaginable explosion and that static was its dying echoes a skillion years later. He lay on his back and listened to the echoes, waiting for his window to explode.”
Copyright © Bernard MacLaverty. Reproduced by permission of the author c/o Rogers, Coleridge and White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN
For Cal, some of the choices are devastatingly simple - he can work in the abattoir that nauseates him or he can join the dole queue; he can brood on his past or plan a future with Marcella.
Springing out of the fear and violence of Ulster, Cal is a haunting love story in a land where tenderness and innocence can only flicker briefly in the dark.
The book depicts the isolation a young man suffers in a divided community, because of the enmity attributed to him by some and the allegiance presumed in him by those who see him as their own.
A remarkable feat… Mr MacLaverty has a true feeling for tragedy.
Anita Brookner in Evening Standard (12.1.83)
To fashion a short, telling novel out of the hideous complexities of Northern Ireland takes narrative skill of a high order. In CAL Bernard MacLaverty has managed to do it superbly.
Nina Bawden in The Daily Telegraph (13.1.83)
A formidable fictional triumph.
Valentine Cunningham in The Observer (16.1.83)
Very close to literary perfection…
Eileen Battersby in U Magazine (Sept 1984)
A bittersweet fable of our time.
Jim Miller in Newsweek (5.9.83)
Miraculously vivid precision… he is a born novelist.
Francis King in The Spectator (12.2.83)
It is a work in the classical tradition of the novel; and it has all the beauty and moral seriousness of the form at its best.
Allan Massie in The Scotsman (15.1.83)
This is a short novel but it is that rarest of all experiences, one that leaves us a little different, and a little wiser, for having had it. CAL is a hard, dark gemstone of a book.
Alan Ryan in Cleveland Plain Dealer (21.8.83)
... a tiny marvel of technical perfection… CAL is a most moving novel whose emotional impact is grounded in a complete avoidance of sentimentality… CAL will become the PASSAGE TO INDIA of the Troubles.
Michael Gorra in The New York Times Book Review (21.8.83)
CAL is a love story as affecting and tragic as you could want… as finely crafted as a short story.
Robert Wilson in USA TODAY (29.7.83)
The reader is drawn into an emotional affinity rarely achieved by serious writing in our time…
Julia O’Faolain in The New York Times Book Review (2nd November 1980)
... the work of a contemporary master.
Alan Bold in The Sunday Standard (2.5.82)
TYPE OF PUBLICATION