Island

The Collected Stories 1968-2014

Publisher: Emblem Editions
Joyce Carol Oates gives us a precise image of the experience of reading these stories: "that sudden feeling of insecurity that comes to a traveler in unmapped country; a sense of immediacy, cinematic in its vividness."


The sixteen exquisitely crafted stories in Island prove Alistair MacLeod to be a master. Quietly, precisely, he has created a body of work that is among the greatest to appear in English in the last fifty years.

A book-besotted patriarch releases his only son from the obligations of the sea. A father provokes his young son to violence when he reluctantly sells the family horse. A passionate girl who grows up on a nearly deserted island turns into an ever-wistful woman when her one true love is felled by a logging accident. A dying young man listens to his grandmother play the old Gaelic songs on her ancient violin as they both fend off the inevitable. The events that propel MacLeod's stories convince us of the importance of tradition, the beauty of the landscape, and the necessity of memory.

READING GUIDE

A. For discussion of "The Boat"

1.By the end of the story, does the narrator still feel that "it was very much braver to spend a life doing what you really do not want rather than selfishly following forever your own dreams and inclinations" [p. 21]?

B. For discussion of...

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PRAISE FOR

 • "A great writer.... Talent like his needs no hype."-The New York Times Book Review
 • "The work of a superb...patient craftsman."-The Boston Globe
 • "This stormy Cape Breton Island...is a place you will never forget, illuminated by a writer whose name you will always remember."-San Francisco Chronicle
 • "A remarkable reading experience.... MacLeod clearly has a distinctive literary voice... His writing is seamless, rather like a Heifetz CD or a Sinatra or Fitzgerald song.... His stories are artfully crafted."-The New York Times
 • "MacLeod writes of bonds of love and family that transcend time and distance and all the circumstantial dividers that life imposes, and does it with as much heart as any writer ever has."-The Dallas Morning News