Excerpt from TransAtlantic by Colum McCann, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

TransAtlantic

A Novel

by Colum McCann

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2013, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2014, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


The earth holds, the Vimy sinks, the nose dips, the tail lifts.

It is as if they have been yanked backwards by surprise. The front of the Vimy slams into the soil. The back end flips. Brown smashes his face on the front of the cockpit. Alcock pushes back against the rudder control bar, bends it with pure force. A shot of pain through his chest and shoulders. Good Jesus, Jackie, what happened there? Have we crashed?

The silence, a noise in their heads. Louder now than ever. Suddenly doubled somehow. And then a relief floods up through them. The noise filters down into the rest of their bodies. Is that silence? Is that really silence? The racket of it. Slipping through their skullboxes. Good God, Teddy, that's silence. That's what it sounds like.

Brown touches his nose, his chin, his teeth, to see if he is intact. A few cuts, a few bruises. Nothing else. We 're alive. We 're perpendicular, but we 're alive.

The Vimy sticks out of the earth like some new-world dolmen. The nose is buried at least two feet in the bog. The tail in the air.

—Crikey, says Alcock.

He can smell petrol somewhere. He switches off the magnetos.

—Quick. Out. Down.

Brown reaches for the logbook, the flares, the linen bag of letters. Pulls himself up over the edge of the cockpit. Throws down his walking stick and it hits like an arrow in the bog below, stuck sideways in the soil. A burn in the leg as he lands. Hallelujah for the ground: it almost surprises him that it isn't made of air. A living dolmen, yes.

In the pocket of his flight suit, Brown has a small pair of binoculars. The right lens has fogged, but through the good lens he sees figures high-stepping across the bog. Soldiers. Yes, soldiers. They seem for all the world like toy things coming, dark against the complicated Irish sky. As they get closer he can make out the shape of their hats and the slide of rifles across their chests and the bounce of bandolier belts. There 's a war going on, he knows. But there 's always some sort of war going on in Ireland, isn't there? One never knows quite whom or what to trust. Don't shoot, he thinks. After all this, don't shoot us. Excuse me. Nein, nein. But these are his own. British, he is sure of it. One of them with a camera bobbing at his chest. Another still in his striped pajamas.

Behind them, in the distance, horses and carts. A single motorcar. A line of people coming from the town, snaking out along the road, small gray figures. And look at that. Look at that. A priest in white vestments. Coming closer now. Men, women, children. Running. In their Sunday best.

Ah, mass. So, they must have been at mass. That is why there was nobody on the streets.

The smell of the earth, so astoundingly fresh: it strikes Brown like a thing he might eat. His ears throb. His body feels as if it is still moving through the air. He is, he thinks, the first man ever to fly and stand at the exact same time. The war out of the machine. He holds the small bag of letters up in salute. On they come, soldiers, people, the light drizzle of gray.

Ireland.

A beautiful country. A bit savage on a man all the same.

Ireland.

Excerpted from TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. Copyright © 2013 by Colum McCann. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Noise of Time
    by Julian Barnes
    Confession: I do two terrible – some say unforgivable – things while reading a book. First...
  • Book Jacket
    Smoke
    by Dan Vyleta
    In Dan Vyleta's universe, set in an alternate Victorian England, people engaging in sinful thought ...
  • Book Jacket: Golden Hill
    Golden Hill
    by Francis Spufford
    Spufford brings American history to raucous life through the story of Mr. Richard Smith, a ...

Win this book!
Win The Library of Light and Shadow

The Library of Light and Shadow by M.J. Rose

"Possibly her best yet. A sensuous, sumptuous, and spellbinding novel." - Kirkus Reviews

Enter

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Necklace
    by Claire McMillan

    For readers of The Nest, the intelligent, intoxicating story of long-simmering family secrets.
    Reader Reviews

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T H Are B T O

and be entered to win..

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.