Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    The stories in this extraordinary collection are set in Northern Ireland, specifically Belfast, the center for more than thirty years of fighting between Roman Catholic nationalists and Protestants loyal to the British crown. Cornell is not preoccupied, however, with the details of the war. Her stories explore the emotional and psychological consequences of the struggle to endure not only violence, but loss, failure, and the inability to believe.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7883-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-1)
  3. Maps of Belfast
    (pp. 2-2)
  4. Heat
    (pp. 3-10)

    She looks like a young one, my father told me, while I was still too far behind him to see—Careful now, he said, try not to frighten her. She was smaller than I had expected, and more fragile. Among the chestnut hairs that cloaked her back and shoulders there were longer, thicker strands of black, yet they too had an unexpected softness, and when the light breeze from the hills above the gully blew over her from behind, the smoky down of her inner coat stirred like a living thing against her skin. Be very quiet, my father said...

  5. The Start of the Season
    (pp. 11-22)

    It was close to five when they returned to the hotel. They’d spent the day hiking in the hills above the lake, following thin, sandy roads from which dust rose all day like steam. They’d passed the lemon trees that the brochure had described, the olive groves and vineyards, the orchards heavy with fruit and the odour of ripening.Dear Mum, Jean wrote as she sat on the balcony, propping the postcard against her knee.Italy’s beautiful and our room’s much nicer than we’d expected. It’s wonderful just to get away.

    For their first trip together outside the U.K., they’d...

  6. Hydrophobic
    (pp. 23-30)

    Eddie Cranston asked my sister to marry him three times before she stopped saying no. The first time he’d come with flowers and gone down in front of her on one knee, even though he was a big man and the position was difficult for him. The second time he asked her he put it in writing and then stood on the corner across from our house, so she’d know where to find him when she wanted to look. A postal strike delayed the letter but still he kept standing there three days in the rain—which impressed her enough...

  7. Departures
    (pp. 31-54)

    My father did the double the year that Harry died. By the same reasoning that led him to drive his brother’s car only on Saturdays because he had no license and was not insured, he worked only part-time to minimise his chances of getting caught. As a strategy for survival it worked remarkably well, and he could have gone on that way forever, had Harry’s nephew not turned him in.

    My father was fifteen years in the city before he moved into the house beside Harry’s. The second son of a man whose farm was neither large nor rich, he’d...

  8. Stigmata
    (pp. 55-64)

    The complex consisted of twin towers, each fifteen stories tall, each equipped with a single pay phone in the lobby and a set of four washer/dryers in the basement beside the lift shaft. There were eight units on every floor, each designed for a single tenant with little time to spare; the rooms were small, and with only two to choose from, time spent in the flat could pass slowly. Each unit on the ground floor had its own tiny, self-contained garden, the false appearance of the semidetached.

    It was the garden that had attracted Eileen to the flat in...

  9. Touched
    (pp. 65-72)

    This is William Emmons ringing, he said. He thought the animal might be dangerous and could my father come right away. It was late so I’d answered, recording the details in the notebook we’d bought in Belfast the day before. You see? my father said when I woke him. I told you it was worth holding on to that phone. It wasn’t until we were halfway there that he remembered, and then he nearly stopped the car and turned around. But we have no rabies here, he told me. There are no rabies in Ireland.

    The Emmonses were an elderly...

  10. Outtake
    (pp. 73-88)

    The bus left him off near the post office in the centre of town. From there he walked through to Cornmarket, then down Ann Street to the club. He’d been there before but never on his own, and not for some months. The last time he’d come he’d been with Gibbons and Fitz; there’d been no chance of getting a girl with the two of them around. The best bloody pickup joint in Belfast, Jimmy, Gibbons had called it—then gone and picked up everything there was to find. Wherever they went it was always the same: what Gib didn’t...

  11. Inheritance
    (pp. 89-104)

    In my mind I have always remembered Mandy’s sixth birthday as the day my mother began her affair with Big John Trowbridge, at six-foot-seven the tallest man any of us had ever seen. He had come to Belfast from America like so many others, to volunteer in the west of the city and observe the war at firsthand. It would have been easier if he had been somehow different from the rest, from those who came for a year, maybe two, and then went home to their families or their educations, got on with their year of travel or returned...

  12. Rise
    (pp. 105-116)

    This is a list of the things that went missing: half a metre of green nylon netting, a small quantity of stainless-steel gauze, a bolt of cheesecloth, two pairs of forceps, eight sheets of plywood and a box of syringes, half a dozen light bulbs, a spool of wire, a fret saw, a hammer, and a packet of needles.

    It’s that boy, my uncle Vincent said. What did I tell you about that boy?

    Now hold on a minute, my father said.

    Hold on, nothing, my uncle answered. That’s who’s done it. And it’s your own fault for taking in...

  13. The Swing of Things
    (pp. 117-132)

    You go answer it, my father said when the doorbell rang. I was up to my elbows in lemon bubbles, a butcher’s apron around my waist, but he took the pot and scrubber off me and held a clean towel while I dried my hands. Go on, luv, he said. I’ll finish these.

    Brian and Jack were my honorary uncles, and though I’d just seen them the previous evening they still hugged me close when I opened the door, the scent of cologne fresh on their collars, their cheeks newly shaven and smooth against mine. My father came from the...

  14. Punching In
    (pp. 133-146)

    The house was one of the older models, three up, two down, with a toilet outside. They’d had little to put in it when they first moved in; they’d had less still eighteen months later. She’d had no jewelry to pawn, no silver or china, no family heirlooms, no antiques. He had a watch but he wouldn’t part with it. Neither one of them would have considered selling the TV. So when the time came when there was no food in the house and no money to buy more, she’d sold all but the two sets of cutlery, two plates,...

  15. Undertow
    (pp. 147-174)

    It was close to September and the date of the wedding when my father started bringing us to Castlerock. After breakfast we’d board the first train from Central Station that went south to Lambeg and Lisburn before turning north and arriving eventually beside the sea. We’d spend the rest of the day there on the rocks above the beach, hurling stones into the oncoming waves and fishing without bait until it was time to catch the last train from Derry home. The train leaned hard into the left shoulder just before the platform came into sight, and as we moved...

  16. Maps of Belfast
    (pp. 175-175)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 176-176)