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From the internationally celebrated author of No Great Mischief comes a moving short story of three generations of men from a single family whose lives are forever altered by the long shadow of war. In the early morning hours of November 11, David MacDonald, a veteran of the Second World War, stands outside his Cape Breton home, preparing to attend what will likely be his last Remembrance Day parade. As he waits for the arrival of his son and grandson, he remembers his decision to go to war in desperation to support his young family. He remembers the horrors of life at the frontlines in Ortona, Italy, and then what happened in Holland when the Canadians arrived as liberators. He remembers how the war devastated his own family, but gave him other reasons to live. As the story unfolds, other generations enter the scene. What emerges is an elegant, life-affirming meditation on the bond between fathers and sons, "e;how the present always comes out of the past,"e; and how even in the midst of tragedy and misfortune there exists the possibility for salvation. His first new short story in over a decade, Remembrance is a powerful reminder of why Alistair MacLeod is one of the most beloved storytellers of our time.
These slow, beautiful stories - resolute and resonant - are small masterpieces: apparently simple but actually crafted with enormous skill and precision. Set against the unforgiving landscape of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, they are all concerned with the complexities and mysteries of the human heart, the unbreakable bonds and unbridgeable chasms between man and woman, parent and child. Steeped in memory and myth and washed in the brine and blood of the long battle with the land and the sea, these stories celebrate a passionate engagement with the natural world and a continuity of the generations in the face of transition, in the face of love and loss. As John McGahern says in his eloquent foreword: 'the work has a largeness, of feeling, of intellect, of vision, a great openness and generosity, even an old-fashioned courtliness. The stories stand securely outside of fashion while reflecting deep change'. Bringing together all Alistair MacLeod's short fiction, and including two previously uncollected stories, Island represents the great achievement of one of the world's finest storytellers.
In 1779, driven out of his home, Calum MacDonald sets sail from the Scottish Highlands with his extensive family. After a long, terrible journey he settles his family in 'the land of trees', and eventually they become a separate Nova Scotian clan: red-haired and black-eyed, with its own identity, its own history. It is the 1980s by the time our narrator, Alexander MacDonald, tells the story of his family, a thrilling and passionate story that intersects with history: with Culloden, where the clans died, and with the 1759 battle at Quebec that was won when General Wolfe sent in the fierce Highlanders because it was 'no great mischief if they fall'.