McGahern's spare, restrained yet powerfully lyrical language draws meaning from the most ordinary situations, and turns apparently undramatic encounters into profoundly haunting events
McGahern's command of the short story places him among the finest practitioners of the form, in a lineage that runs from Chekhov through Joyce and the Anglo-American masters. When the collection was first published in 1992, the Sunday Times said 'there is a vivid pleasure to be had in the reading of these stories,' while for Cressida Connolly in the Evening Standard 'these wonderful stories are sad and true . McGahern is undoubtedly a great short story writer.' Many of the stories here are already classics: 'Gold Watch', 'High Ground' and 'Parachutes', among others. McGahern's spare, restrained yet powerfully lyrical language draws meaning from the most ordinary situations, and turns apparently undramatic encounters into profoundly haunting events: a man visits his embittered father with his new wife; an ageing priest remembers a funeral he had attended years before; a boy steals comics from a shop to escape the rain-bound melancholy of a seaside holiday; an ageing teacher, who has escaped a religious order, wastes his life in a rural backwater that he knows he will never leave.
John McGahern was born in Dublin in 1934 and brought up in the West of Ireland. He was a graduate of University College, Dublin. He worked as a Primary School teacher and held various academic posts at universities in Britain, Ireland and America. The Observer once hailed him as 'Ireland's greatest living novelist'. He was the author of six highly acclaimed novels and four collections of short stories, and was the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including a Society of Authors Travelling Scholarship, the American-Irish Award, the Prix Etrang re Ecureuil, the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and, most recently, a South Bank Award for Literature. Amongst Women was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1990 and made into a four-part BBC television series. His work has appeared in anthologies and has been translated into many languages. John McGahern died in March 2006, aged 71.
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