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Mothers and Sons: Stories Paperback – January 1, 2008
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In the first story, "The Use of Reason," a lifelong burglar is nearly brought down by his mother, who talks too much when she drinks in her local pub. In "A Song," Noel, on the town with a group of his musician friends, ends up in the same bar as his estranged mother, who is asked to sing. She sings an Irish ballad about love and treachery and he is convinced that she is singing directly to him. In "A Priest in the Family," Molly's son Frank is accused of abuse, but no one has the courage to tell her until it is almost time for the trial. Her reaction is not entirely predictable. "Three Friends" takes place after a young man attends his mother's funeral. He joins his friends for a night of carousing and drugs ending with a late-night swim, where he is emboldened to make an overt sexual pass at one of his buddies, with interesting results. The final story, "A Long Winter," is set in Spain in a remote village. Miquel's mother drinks. Everyone knows it but Miquel. His father pours out her supply of booze and she leaves the house. So far it's a simple story. It doesn't stay that way. Each of these stories has its own gravitas, its own sadness, and that laser-beam of insight that is Toíbín's trademark. --Valerie Ryan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
'The Use of Reason' explores a son's theft of valuable art and the consequences of his actions result in a confrontation with his alcoholic mother that supercedes the criminal act. In the brief 'The Song' a young musician almost mistakenly hears his miscreant mother singing a ballad that should erase years of desertion just as in 'Famous Blue Raincoat' the son discovers songs his mother recorded with her hippie sister before disaster struck the drug-impacted band. In 'The Name of the Game' a mother attempts to recover the errors of her deceased husband in making a life for her son, unknowingly at odds with her son's true needs and goals. A mother faces the infamy of her priest son when his history of sexual abuse surfaces in 'A Priest in the Family', and in 'A Summer Job' the devotion of a son to his grandmother overshadows his relationship to his mother. In 'Three Friends' and 'A Long Winter' Tóibín delicately and with subtle sensitivity introduces same sex themes to embroider stories of strong and powerful tales. For this reader 'A Long Winter' (the longest of the stories) is so excellent it could be stretched into an entire novel!Read more ›
MOTHERS AND SONS recognizes that perhaps no other family relationship is more fraught with the tension between intimacy and distance than this one. In the thematically linked stories of this collection, all but one of which are set in modern-day Ireland, Tóibín chooses to emphasize the circumstances that isolate mothers and sons and the failures of communication that often make it impossible to bridge that gap.
The stories in MOTHERS AND SONS don't feature much in the way of dramatic action and tend to be somewhat monochromatic in their tone and pacing. What Tóibín offers that more than compensates for these shortcomings is his gift for sharp and often painful glimpses into the lives of characters struggling to deal with the harsh reality life has handed them. Typical of these insights is the one that appears at the conclusion of "A Journey," the shortest story in the collection. There, Sally contemplates the grim scene that confronts her when she returns home with her 20-year-old son who's been hospitalized for depression, and enters the bedroom where her husband lies crippled from a stroke.Read more ›
This is certainly the case in Mothers and Sons, where the characters' refusal to exit their own orbs and connect with one another, where the dead bodies don't turn up and the mysteries of their deaths are never solved, is sometimes maddening, sometimes enlightening and almost always sad. Perhaps singling out The Long Winter and Three Friends, the two stories in the book where the characters are able to take refuge in a ramshackle semblance of intimacy, is to miss some darker point; all the same, there is something quite moving in the awkward tenderness of these two stories- both of which involve a mother's death and a son's taking comfort with another man- which gives the booka depth and complexity it would lack without them. These are hardly what one would call romantic stories- in fact, there is a not so subtle desperation at work, a stong sense of pity and escape, in both the encounters- but without them, Mothers and Sons might just be too easy an invitation to despair. Still and all, a highly recommended book by a thoughtful, interesting writer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
i'm not here to judge. we are all different in what we relate to & what we like. that being said, this book was not for me . Read morePublished 3 months ago by Sharon Hamill
You've met some of these people in "Brooklyn". So nice to catch up with them at a different time of their lives. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Mizdizit
Colm Toibin is an outstanding writer. He draws you in with his words and keeps you. His prose is beautifully crafted making reading his work a pleasure. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Louis Rowles
Very enjoyable short stories. I bought it to honor my mom this Mother's Day, 2015. The stories seem to end abruptly though, for my taste. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Rian McGonigal