In this absorbing collection of stories, Stephen Finucan depicts people struggling with the afflictions of life–marital breakdown, the illness of elderly parents, betrayals large and small–and with the solitude that encompasses them.
In “Casualties,” two brothers search for their grandfather’s grave and the truth of his life, all the while unable to share the truth of their own. In the title story, a lonely widower, intent on quietly living out his days in the English countryside, receives a disturbing visit from a strange woman. And in “An Irish Holiday,” a couple attempts to escape the painful truth that lies at the heart of their failing relationship.
The stories take place in locales ranging from an Irish seaside village to small-town Ontario, from the war cemeteries punctuating the Belgian countryside to an impoverished island in the Caribbean. The settings, familiar and exotic alike, serve as mirrors of the characters’ own displacement, reflecting not only their estrangement from others but also from themselves.
“In each of these carefully conceived worlds, it is only at the end that we discover the true weight of the characters’ transformations, or lack thereof, forcing us to look back at out prior perceptions. Finucan’s powerful stories about struggling with inertia force us to consider the consequences of our own inaction.”
–Quill & Quire
“Stephen Finucan’s stories will impress you with their wide range and their lean, evocative prose. A master story-teller, he moves effortlessly from the island jungles of Conrad and Greene to the wintry streets of contemporary Toronto. These stories are no mere vignettes; each is a fully-fledged tale with a strong sense of place, peopled by believable characters and carefully shaped by a master’s hand. Full of risk and adventure, sometimes funny, sometimes horrific, the ten stories in this book will haunt you long after you finish reading them.”
Penguin Canada, March 2003