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Reviews of So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan

So Late in the Day

Stories of Women and Men

by Claire Keegan

So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan X
So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Nov 2023, 128 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Christine Runyon
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About this Book

Book Summary

From Booker Prize Finalist and bestselling author of "pitch perfect" (Boston Globe) Small Things Like These, comes a triptych of stories about love, lust, betrayal, and the ever-intriguing interchanges between women and men.

Celebrated for her powerful short fiction, considered "among the form's most masterful practitioners" (New York Times), Claire Keegan now gifts us three exquisite stories, newly revised and expanded, together forming a brilliant examination of gender dynamics and an arc from Keegan's earliest to her most recent work.

In So Late in the Day, Cathal faces a long weekend as his mind agitates over a woman with whom he could have spent his life, had he behaved differently; in "The Long and Painful Death," a writer's arrival at the seaside home of Heinrich Böll for a residency is disrupted by an academic who imposes his presence and opinions; and in "Antarctica," a married woman travels out of town to see what it's like to sleep with another man and ends up in the grip of a possessive stranger.

Each story probes the dynamics that corrupt what could be between women and men: a lack of generosity, the weight of expectation, the looming threat of violence. Potent, charged, and breathtakingly insightful, these three essential tales will linger with readers long after the book is closed.

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Irish writer Claire Keegan consistently showcases the short story's everlasting appeal. In her collection So Late in the Day, she presents three clever tales of men and women interacting and surprising each other along the way. At only 128 pages, the book proves you don't need length to pack a powerful punch. Only a talented writer can condense such strong meaning into short fiction, and Keegan proves her masterful skill in this area again and again...continued

Full Review Members Only (549 words)

(Reviewed by Christine Runyon).

Media Reviews

LA Times
The arrival of Keegan's newest book, So Late in the Day, offers further confirmation of her spellbinding powers: the unpretentious language that feels forged in a hearth, the evocation of a pastoral but repressive Ireland, the characters whose predicaments remain lodged in your consciousness far longer than the epic battles of 1,000-page sagas.

New York Times
Nothing short of a masterpiece.

Oprah Daily, Best Short-Story Collection of 2023
In spare and exact strokes, Keegan transforms these domestic circumstances into universal mirrors. Easy to devour in a single sitting but likely to haunt you for years.

People Magazine, Book of the Week
A trio of brilliantly polished stories ... In Keegan's expert hands, even a minor skirmish—between a pushy older man and the writer who grudgingly lets him interrupt her solitude at an artist's residency—illuminates how the sexes so often seem to navigate the world on completely different operating systems.

The Atlantic
I did not think realism could be truly feminist until I saw Keegan wield its techniques ... When realism is more revelatory of the world than reality itself, what can you do but feel grateful for Keegan's mastery of it?

Washington Post
Across her oeuvre, Keegan illuminates violence better than almost anyone, avoiding easy didacticism. She pulls apart the strands of misogyny in individuals and institutions, diagnosing the same problem in both ... Throughout her career, Keegan seems to emphasize that we take nothing with us and that all that matters is what we give each other.

Daily Mail (UK)
"Exquisite."

Irish Times (UK)
A mini-masterpiece ... There is nothing demonstrative about this prose, which is not spare but restrained, strategically discharging touches of eloquence only when needed, and not through a profusion of descriptive detail, but through choice adjectives and verbs that just stray from the literal ... Keegan stands almost without rival.

Prima (UK)
Astonishing… perfect.

Sunday Independent (UK)
here aren't enough words in the universe to fully describe quite how affecting this little book is… As with all of Keegan's work the pace is perfectly measured, like a relaxed heartbeat… Each sentence, each word is meticulously placed…. As always, Keegan describes the domestic quotidian in beautiful detail, elevating it - women's work - to an art form… This is a treasure of a book.

Sunday Times (UK)
[Keegan] is a superb stylist: every well-structured paragraph contains multitudes… Incredibly engrossing… She constructs her stories from a skeleton of inferences that rise, gloriously, to form complex urges, crimes, desires, rebellions and, crucially, universal truths. Each brief work is worth the wait: Keegan is something special.

Guardian (UK)
Claire Keegan is known for Tardis-like narratives that are bigger on the inside ... So Late in the Day illuminates misogyny across Irish society.

Booklist (starred review)
A master class in precisely crafted short fiction… Keegan's trenchant observations explode like bombshells, bringing menace and retribution to tales of romance delayed, denied, and even deadly.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Compact but deep explorations of human vulnerability from a master of the form.

Publishers Weekly
Exquisite… These pristine stories demonstrate the author's genius for economy. Keegan says in a paragraph what other writers take entire novels to reveal.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Irish Short Stories and Their Common Themes

Cover of Dubliners by James JoyceStorytelling has always been an integral part of Irish heritage and culture. Originally, Irish stories were passed down through the generations by ear, first by bardic poets, and later by storytellers called seanchaí (or seanchaíwere, which means "bearer of old lore" in Gaelic). The bards and seanchaí weren't just storytellers; they were well-respected members of the community, responsible for preserving local history, genealogy, poetry, and myths of Ancient Ireland.

The seanchaí were dedicated to their craft, living as vagabonds and practicing several arts at once. Essentially walking libraries, they were also dramatic entertainers, building scenes amidst fire smoke. The seanchaí told wondrous tales pulled from ...

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