Category Archives: Toibin, Colm

“As Though From a Distance”: Rereading Colm Tóibín’s Brooklyn

When I posted about Brooklyn here before, I admitted that I might just have been reading it at the wrong time to appreciate it. I found the style so flatly precise it was almost plodding; I thought Eilis herself was so distanced, from herself and from us, that she seemed ultimately insubstantial. “I was expecting something […]

“The Old High Art of Fiction”: Colm Tóibín, The Master

Once it became more solid, the emerging story and all its ramifications and possibilities lifted him out of the gloom of his failure. He grew determined that he would become more hardworking now. He took up his pen again — the pen of all his unforgettable efforts and sacred struggles. It was now, he believed, […]

Colm Toibin, Brooklyn

The blurb page of my edition of Brooklyn is full of praise for Toibin’s style. Words like “simplicity” predominate, along with “spare,” “delicate,” and “elegance.” I can imagine a review of Brooklyn that would describe similar features but with less enthusiasm: instead of “spare,” perhaps “sparse”; instead of “delicate,” “flat” or “colorless.” It’s a book […]

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