The Boatman and Other Stories

The Boatman and Other Stories

4.37 (155 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 
4.37 (155 ratings by Goodreads)

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"I know of no writer on either side of the Atlantic who is better at exploring the human spirit under assault than Billy O'Callaghan."--Robert Olen Butler

The prizewinning Irish short-story writer and author of the highly praised novel, My Coney Island Baby, delivers his most accomplished book of short fiction to date--a poignant story collection that "grips from the opening page" (Bernard MacLaverty).

These are twelve poignant, quietly dazzling, and carefully crafted stories that explore the resiliency of the human heart and its ability to keep beating in the wake of bereavement, violence, lost love, and incomparable trauma and grief. Spanning a century and two continents, from the muddy fields of Ireland to a hotel room in Paris, a dingy bar in Segovia to an airplane bound for Taipei, The Boatman and Other Stories follows an unforgettable cast of characters. Three gunshots on the Irish border define the course of a young man's life; a writer clings fast to a star-crossed affair with a woman who has never been fully within his reach; a fisherman accustomed to hard labor rolls up his sleeves to dig a grave for his child; and a pair of newlyweds embark on their first adventure, living wild on the deserted Beginish Island.

Ranging from the elegiac to the brutally confrontational, these densely layered tales reveal the quiet heroism and gentle dignity of ordinary life. Billy O'Callaghan is a master celebrant of the smallness of the human flame against the dark: its strength and its steady brightness.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 130 x 193 x 18mm | 181g
  • English
  • 006285660X
  • 9780062856609
  • 2,036,543

Review quote

"The Boatman and Other Stories tears at the heartstrings of the reader with each story...An appreciation for life and love shines through...An excellent body of work to be enjoyed." -- San Francisco Book Review

"...deeply affecting stories...the collection's best pieces stay close to home and cleave close to the bone...Low-key, nuanced, moving--an impressive collection." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This collection of taut, lyrical short stories explores the choices of characters at the limits of emotional and physical extremes... O'Callaghan's affection for the harsh landscape of Ireland is as strong as his knowledge of his flawed and emotionally driven characters, to the point that they seem to grow inevitably out of that misty, unforgiving place." -- Booklist

"Twelve outstanding and often poignant stories from one of Ireland's master storytellers... high quality, literary fiction." -- Fictionophile, at 746 Stories

"Love, bereavement, Paris in the rain give an unforced gravity and lyricism to these stories...which focus on the glimmer of heart in the hardness of life." -- Sunday Times (UK)

"A shining example of how [short stories] can distil and intensify a writer's gifts... These 12 stories confirm [O'Callaghan's] delicate craftsmanship, unflashy narrative and descriptive skill, and his deep understanding of powerful and universal emotions... Breathtaking... Masterly... Irish writing has put out many new and more consciously modernist shoots in recent years, all welcome. But Billy O'Callaghan belongs now in the recognised front rank, along with Bernard MacLaverty, Edna O'Brien, William Trevor and Colm Tóibín." -- The Tablet (UK)
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Rating details

155 ratings
4.37 out of 5 stars
5 50% (78)
4 39% (60)
3 8% (13)
2 3% (4)
1 0% (0)
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