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If you enjoy Colm Toibin's writing, you will love these short stories. They are the essence of what he writes about -- what is said, and what is unsaid.
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Toibin presents nine moving stories about love, loss, and longing that span decades, eras, countries, and lifestyles. The effect of such diversity is the recognition of the emotions we all share. In the opening story, Lady Gregory, young wife of an older and no longer terribly interested husband, falls into a dangerous and short-lived affair with a married poet. Two of the stories deal with young men handling the deaths of the mother figures in their lives. In "One Minus One," a young Irish man, now living in Texas, recalls his earlier return to Dublin for his mother's funeral and the loss of his gay lover. In "The Colour of Shadows," Paul, a young gay Irishman, must take responsibility for the last days of the aunt who raised him as she falls deeper into Alzheimer's and ill health. Aunt Josie tends to forget who he is, and when she remembers, she expresses rigid disapproval of his lifestyle. "Two Women" features an elderly, cantankerous but renowned set designer who returns to Dublin to work on what may be her last film. Along the way, she finds herself reminiscing about an early love. The longest and perhaps most touching story in the collection, "The Street" focuses on two Pakistani men who fall in love while working under exploitive conditions in post-Franco Barcelona.
Toibin's gentle, poetic prose hits just the right notes for each of these stories. He reminds us that, even though we inevitably realize that love is not necessarily forever, it's part of the human condition to yearn for it, seek for it, bring it back to life within our hearts and minds, if only as the shadow of a memory.
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