Secrets and Other Stories
By Bernard MacLaverty
Married love, male friendship, a small boy intruding upon secret adult grief, a husband contemplating infidelity - Bernard MacLaverty catches his characters at moments of epiphany, when ordinary life is set alight with sudden knowledge, memory, regret or desire.
“His aunt had been small - her head on a level with his when she sat at her table - and she seemed to get smaller each year. Her skin fresh, her hair white and waved and always well washed. She wore no jewelry except a cameo ring on the third finger of her right hand and, around her neck, a gold locket on a chain. The white classical profile on the ring was almost worn through and had become translucent and indistinct. ... The boy had noticed the ring when she had read to him as a child. In the beginning fairy tales, then as he got older extracts from famous novels, Lorna Doone, Persuasion, Wuthering Heights and her favourite extract, because she read it so often, Pip’s meeting with Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. She would sit with him on her knee, her arms around him and holding the page flat with her hand. When he was bored he would interrupt her and ask her about the ring. He loved hearing her tell of how her grandmother had given it to her as a brooch and she had had a ring made from it. He would try to count back to see how old it was. Had her grandmother got it from her grandmother? And if so what had she turned it into? She would nod her head from side to side and say, ‘How would I know a thing like that?’ keeping her place in the closed book with her finger.
‘Don’t be so inquisitive,’ she’d say.‘Let’s see what happens next in the story.’”
Copyright © Bernard MacLaverty. Reproduced by permission of the author c/o Rogers, Coleridge and White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN
This collection contains:
A Rat and some Renovations
St Paul Could Hit the Nail on the Head
A Happy Birthday
The Miraculous Candidate
Between Two Shores
Umberto Verdi, Chimney Sweep
Where the Tides Meet
A Pornographer Woos
A Present for Christmas
The Bull with the Hard Hat
The Deep End
The short stories in this collection relate to the stories of the ordinary people that lived in Northern Ireland throughout the Troubles. The stories are a mixture of humor, sadness and occasionally pain.
William Boyd in The New York Times Book Review: “What makes this collection memorable is the way it is charged with a sense of Ireland and reverberations of Irish literature - Yeats, Joyce, Synge, Flann O’Brien - and Mr MacLaverty sits perfectly comfortably with these august shades.”
Gregory McNamee in The Bloomsbury Review: “Secrets is an unhappy, powerful book… and it continues to demonstrate that MacLaverty may well be one of the best writers of dramatic prose at work today.”
Jennifer Johnston in Hibernia: “Secrets is a marvelously good collection of short stories. Here is the pain, the guilt, the desperation depicted with compassion and great humour. Bernard MacLaverty manages to slip through that mysterious barrier that exists between good, serious, well-written prose and art.”
Allison and Busby
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