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The Empty Family (2010)

by Colm Tóibín(Favorite Author)
3.66 of 5 Votes: 4
143913832X (ISBN13: 9781439138328)
review 1: If the stories in this collection have one thing in common, it is solitude. Many on the protagonists are alone, perhaps they were once in a relationship, perhaps they just prefer it that way, yet there is an air of melancholy that seems to pervade each story.Many of the stories feature a central gay male character, and a few of the stories are explicit. The final story and the longest centres on a young Pakistani immigrant in Spain living in a closed community of fellow immigrants. It differs from the majority of the stories in this collection in that here we follow a developing relationship as Malik, the younger man, develops an attachment to the older Abdul. It is a story fraught with difficulties, not helped by Abdul's reticence, yet it is a beautiful and touching accou... morent.The Empty Family is a fine collection of short stories, very perceptive, involving and moving, above all the they are beautifully written, drawing the reader into the private worlds of the participants, and as such they are deeply affecting.
review 2: The range in this collection went from outstanding to boring, ergo a 3-star rating. The most consistent mood seemed to be of loneliness or alienation, and it became wearing, at least to me. So many strong quotes but there was one which stood out, 'the future is a foreign country; they do everything differently there.' Mulled over that one for quite a time. I was also moved by this excerpt, '...she often wondered if there was a difference between her life now and the years stretching to eternity that she would spend in the grave.' Great impact, elegantly stated. That sums up much of Toibin.My favorite story? 'The New Spain' because of the irony and hypocrisy revealed in the struggle between Carme and her family. Padre sells off family land for huge sums of money resulting in cookie-cutter holiday homes and (horrors!) tourists. Then he builds barricades and a private pool to avoid said invaders. Again, alienation.What is to dislike? Some of the sex scenes were too extended. I prefer the tactics of Henry James who thought that the reader was capable of using imagination when steered by the author rather than being bludgeoned.P.S. Just reading a list of the opening lines of fifty famous books and see that Toibin used the 'future is a foreign country...' line as almost an exact quote from 'The Go-Between.' Guess that is quite some homage. less
Reviews (see all)
I thought the best story was "The Street". Toibin is great in every respect though.
Nine short stories! Each one is beautifully written.
Could not finish. Did not enjoy.
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