No Great Mischief

No Great Mischief

Paperback

By (author) Alistair MacLeod

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  • Publisher: VINTAGE
  • Format: Paperback | 272 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 194mm x 20mm | 118g
  • Publication date: 4 August 2011
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0099283921
  • ISBN 13: 9780099283928
  • Sales rank: 20,678

Product description

In 1779, driven out of his home, Calum MacDonald sets sail from the Scottish Highlands with his extensive family. After a long, terrible journey he settles his family in 'the land of trees', and eventually they become a separate Nova Scotian clan: red-haired and black-eyed, with its own identity, its own history. It is the 1980s by the time our narrator, Alexander MacDonald, tells the story of his family, a thrilling and passionate story that intersects with history: with Culloden, where the clans died, and with the 1759 battle at Quebec that was won when General Wolfe sent in the fierce Highlanders because it was 'no great mischief if they fall'.

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Author information

Alistair MacLeod was born in 1936 and raised in Cape Breton, Nove Scotia. MacLeod is the author of two short story collections, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (1976) and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun and Other Stories (1986) and the novel, No Great Mischief, published in 1999. Written over the course of thirteen years, No Great Mischief won numerous Canadian literary awards and the 2001 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. All of his published short stories, plus one new piece, were collected in Island, published in 2000. Alistair MacLeod died in 2014.

Review quote

"You will find scenes from this majestic novel burned into your mind forever" -- Alice Munro "One of the great undiscovered writers of our time" -- Michael Ondaatje "The novel is close to being a masterpiece. The characters, the light and the weather, the story itself - its beautiful tone and shape, its harsh and melancholy music - stay with you for days afterwards. The novel is simply breathtaking in its emotional range" -- Colm Toibin Irish Times "Exceptional... The book is pervaded by the humour and colour; intensely vivid, and very, very moving" Independent "Alistair MacLeod is a wonderfully talented writer" -- Margaret Atwood

Editorial reviews

There are many beautiful moments in this limpid and haunting novel, the first full-length fiction from the Canadian author of two highly praised story collections: The Salt Gift of Blood (1998, not reviewed) and the paperback As Birds Bring Forth the Sun (1996).Those titles hint at the lyricism that is MacLeod's special giftand that flowers impressively as the narrator, Toronto orthodontist Alexander MacDonald, looks wistfully back at the history of his family's emigration from Scotland in the 17th century, the life and legacy of his ancestor `Calum Ruadh` ('red-haired Calum`), Alexander's own upbringing by his doting paternal grandparents (after an accident on a treacherous ice floe takes the lives of his parents and an older brother), and his later relationships with his other surviving brothers, rough-hewn miners whose wayward energies propel them into alcoholism, and even murder. Alexander's vacillations between his sophisticated, comfortable present-day `world` and that of his stoical family are memorably captured in frequent shifts between present and past. These give the tale a marvelous variety and color; but redundant contrasts between the romantic-chaotic then` and the drab `now` (frequently spelled out in lax conversations between Alexander and his twin sister) only make us impatient to return to the MacDonald clan's earlier days. The retold family stories are without exception gripping and quite moving, and are graced by stunning little gasps and leaps of felicitous phrasing (for example, at the funeral of a brother killed in a mine accident, Alexander muses `On the last day of his life he had been deeper in the earth than he now reposed in death`).If all of MacLeods debut operated at this level of intuition and eloquence, the novel would be a masterpiece. As it stands, it confirms his reputation as one of Canada's most sensitive and stylish writers of fiction. (Kirkus Reviews)