Wednesday, September 2, 2015


Title:  Thirteen Ways Of Looking
Author:  Colum McCann
Pages:  256
Publication Date:  10.13. 2015
Publisher:  Random House
                    ARC from NetGalley
                    & Random House


In the exuberant title novella, a retired judge reflects on his life's work, unaware as he goes about his daily routines that this particular morning will be his last. In “Sh'khol,” a mother spending Christmas alone with her son confronts the unthinkable when he disappears while swimming off the coast near their home in Ireland. In “Treaty,” an elderly nun catches a snippet of a news report in which it is revealed that the man who once kidnapped and brutalized her is alive, masquerading as an agent of peace. And in “What Time Is It Now, Where You Are?” a writer constructs a story about a Marine in Afghanistan calling home on New Year's Eve.

My view:

We are in New York's Upper East Side. Somewhere in this City a man awakens to a snowy day, his name is Mendelssohn to all, Mr J to his nurse Sally.
Retired Judge, widowed, father to Katya and Elliott.
At an advanced age, Mendelssohn has become a creature of habit. Chiallis is no exception, an upscale restaurant his only indulgence. A coat, hat and cane will take him to his favorite table regardless of snow. Today his son Elliott will join him, a rare occasion.
Much awaits Mendelssohn at Chiallis

I absolutely loved the protagonist, Mendelssohn, he will stay with me a long time, no cranky old man

A gem, this novella

Having agreed to write a short story for a New Year edition, a writer seems unable to see his way beyond a first sentence. Month pass, nothing.
Close to his deadline, an idea, how about the viewpoint of a soldier in a far off land ?
He chooses a Marine, names her Sandi, alone in the desert, on watch duty, a satellite phone by her side. Will she hear her son's voice or will the light from the phone make her a target.

# 3 SH'khol
Rebecca and Tomas, her son, celebrate Christmas together at home in Galway, Ireland. Tomas thirteen, a tall handsome boy. Born in Russia, abandoned as an infant, deaf, beside various disabilities. Rebecca's love for this lost child, shows itself much stronger than any affliction. A new life and family awaits Tomas.
Christmas will be a turning point in both their lives.
Do we truly know our child ? Born to us or adopted ?
Rebecca will try to understand Tomas, and perhaps her own actions in this heartfelt tale.

# 4 Treaty
Long Island, a peaceful stretch of land along the ocean. A perfect  home for a convent, run by Catholic sisters. We meet Beverly who arrives from Huston to find peace among her own, she also is a nun.
Until a certain evening, while watching the news, a face appears on the screen, questions which need answers will take Beverly to London.
Can evil ever transform into good ? To find the peace she so desperately needs, Beverly will face a past of unimaginable evil.

Colum McCann's prose and story telling is such a pleasure to behold, there isn't a short story that shines above others, each in it's own right is a gem.

It is a must read and deserving all of 5 stars

I received this ARC from NetGalley & Random House
in return for an honest review


Bellezza Mjs said...

I'm not sure I didn't love Let The Great World Spin as everyone else does. But, even though I thought the writing strong, the story didn't move me. For that reason I haven't read this latest book of his. But, I'm glad you received it from NetGalley, and im glad you liked it.

sylvie said...

I do remember liking Let the great world spin, however it didn't stay with me as other novels do. Thirteen ways of looking, on the other hand will be remembered. I really felt for the characters. Specially the first short story and the fourth one.