Blank Pages and Other Stories
The extraordinary new story collection from one of Ireland's greatest writers and bestselling author of Midwinter Break
The extraordinary new story collection from one of Ireland's greatest writers and bestselling author of Mindwinter Break.
Bernard MacLaverty is a consummately gifted short-story writer and novelist whose work - like that of John McGahern, William Trevor, Edna O'Brien or Colm Tóibín - is deceptively simple on the surface, but carries a turbulent undertow. Everywhere, the dark currents of violence, persecution and regret pull at his subject matter: family love, the making of art, Catholicism, the Troubles and, latterly, ageing.
Blank Pages is a collection of twelve extraordinary new stories that show the emotional range of a master. 'Blackthorns', for instance, tells of a poor out-of-work Catholic man who falls gravely ill in the sectarian Northern Ireland of 1942 but is brought back from the brink by an unlikely saviour. The most recently written story here is the harrowing but transcendent 'The End of Days', whichimagines the last moments in the life of painter Egon Schiele, watching his wife dying of Spanish flu - the world's worst pandemic, until now.
Much of what MacLaverty writes is an amalgam of sadness and joy, of circumlocution and directness. He never wastes words but neither does he ever forget to make them sing. Each story he writes creates a universe.
Praise for Blank Pages and Other Stories
I can't think of another living writer whose attention to the small acts and seemingly inconsequential details of our lives unlocks so much emotional truth. Like Chekhov, MacLaverty writes as though everything is happening in front of our eyes, revealing, in story after story and in prose as clear as glass, the ineffable in the everyday.Carys Davies
Tragic, poignant, loving and often devastating in their truthfulness, peel back the seemingly placid surfaces of these beautifully conceived and sculpted stories and you'll find all the trials of the world laid bare. Blank Pages and Other Stories is a stunning achievement. Bernard MacLaverty is undoubtedly one of the finest and most gifted writers at work today, and in terms of the short story he has no better, and perhaps only a few equals. This is craft honed across a lifetime to utmost mastery, and work that sets a towering benchmark. An exquisite collection.Billy O'Callaghan
MacLaverty locates the precise point where life bleeds into art, and art into life. Even in the briefest of his stories his themes emerge slowly, unforced, as if pondering themselves; like the best writers through the ages, he is confident and questioning, engaged and wise.Hilary Mantel
Each story pulses with the pain of ordinary life as well as the hope, the numinous quality without which we are all lost... each new collection is its own rare gift - and one to be savoured.Stephen McGinty, Sunday Times
This fine collection reaffirms MacLaverty's place among the greatest short story writers of his generation.Alexander Larman, Observer
Few write stories with such emotional clarity as this Booker-shortlisted son of Belfast.i
MacLaverty's real skill lies in creating atmosphere, in presenting images that last in the mind more than incidental details of plot... these are stories that must be listened to carefully to catch their deafening boom.Zoë Apostolides, Financial Times
MacLaverty... is a matchless observer of human details both trivial...and significant.John Self, Guardian