Colm Toibin's new book, The Empty Family
, is a haunting collection of nine short stories that speaks to the connections we make with both people and places. It explores the idea that recognizing and acknowledging the profound influence both these aspects have on us leads us to be content with who we are. The high bar of expectation set by Tóibín's previous books is met if not surpassed by this latest work. Once again we are given the gift of wonderful writing, not only because of the journeys we are taken on but the way in which we travel.
All of the narrating characters share one common trait, they are solitary, self-controlled and stoic in nature. Yet as each tale unfolds, we not only see what they do and listen to what they say but are privy to what they think and so they become open to us in a poignant and intimate way. We witness each of them...
Beyond the Book
Henry James (1843-1916), the prolific American writer of the late 19th/early 20th century, was known to pick up ideas for his stories from dinner party conversations. Colm Tóibín puts this bit of knowledge to use in his short story "Silence", when he has fictional character Lady Gregory share a secret with James as they sit next to each other at a dining table. A source of great influence and inspiration for Tóibín over the years, Tóibín paid homage to James in his well-received novel, The Master
, a biographical work of fiction which begins in 1895 when James's hopes of becoming a...