Transatlantic

Transatlantic

A Novel

Book - 2013
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A Globe & Mail 100 Selection

"One story is all stories," says Colum McCann, author of the award-winning Let the Great World Spin

In his remarkable new novel, Colum McCann masterfully reaches across the centuries to braid together three unforgettable stories. In 1845, Frederick Douglass, a black American slave, lands in Ireland to champion ideas of democracy and freedom, only to find a famine unfurling around him. In 1919, two brave young airmen emerge from the carnage of World War I to pilot the first transatlantic flight from St. John's, Newfoundland, to the west of Ireland. And in 1998 an American senator criss-crosses the ocean in search of a lasting peace in Ireland.

Taking these stories as his point of departure, Colum McCann weaves together the lives of Douglass, Alcock and Brown and Senator George Mitchell in a tapestry that is both ambitious and unforgettable.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2013
Edition: 1st Cdn ed
ISBN: 9781554689927
Branch Call Number: MCC
Characteristics: 304 p. ;,24 cm

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t
talltimt
Feb 13, 2016

“The elaborate search for a word, like the turning of a chain handle on a well. Dropping the bucket down the mineshaft of the mind. Taking up empty bucket after empty bucket until finally, at an unexpected moment, it caught hard and had a sudden weight and she raised the word, then delved down into the emptiness once more.” McCann may be describing part of the writing process of one of his characters; but surely he is also revealing his own practice, because he does, indeed, find some very nice and surprising words, not uncommon words but common words uncommonly used. Some examples:
--“She ached her way into bed.”
--“Perhaps the reason for her trip was to unhem herself from routine.”
--“The branches of the trees knit the wind.”
--Early on an overcast day, “the rumor of morning hangs faint on the sky.”
--During a storm, “The wind was demented.”
--A flock of geese descend and “blanket onto the water.”
--In a vacant lot, “the wrapper of a chocolate bar sparred against the wind.”
There are also wonderful phrases and images that make one admire his writing, but gradually his “artfulness” begins to pall, to feel false, a little too self-consciously clever, and we become to aware of the writer, which draws us away from the writing and what is being said. For example: The geese “soared in . . . [looking] as if they were pulling the color out of the sky.” Or here: A toaster pops. “Out hop the slices, like pole-vaulters or prison escapees.”
At times McCann writes with an intensity, a ferocity of words and brilliance of depiction, that often swept me along under a rush of speed, energy, and implacability like one of those massive waves that must threaten and thrill a Pacific surfer. Readers who liked his “Let the Great World Spin” will find a similar use of intertwined but separate “stories” here and will probably approve of this device (with which I have no objection); but this novel, for all the power of its language, the vividness of its descriptions, the poignancy of its subject, still adds up to less than the sum of its parts. And it left me regretful, somewhat melancholy, and surprisingly unmoved.

l
LoganLib_Central
Nov 26, 2015

Selected for the Logan Central Tuesday Book Club in 2016. For a full list of 2016 selections, see the Logan Central Tuesday Book Club list.

a
Anncee
Jul 31, 2015

Book group choice

e
EmilyEm
Oct 30, 2014

'Transatlantic' takes you back and forth between America and Ireland, at three different times periods. The author is a master blending fact and fiction in remarkable prose. The George Mitchell section, giving his thoughts in the lead up to the Good Friday Peace Accords was my favorite part.

s
stewstealth
Sep 07, 2014

Well written prose and imagery make this book worth reading. The author weaves a compelling story through generations on both sides of the Atlantic.. If you are looking for action, look elsewhere. However this novel is worth the time investment.

l
lorraine_on_rodney
Aug 27, 2014

In the early chapters, I wasn't sure where the author was heading, but he did bring it all together very nicely and intelligently. He handled his characters with warmth and caring, while acknowledging their flaws.

Not as ambitious or flamboyant as Let the Great World Spin, one of my favorite novels, but still very worth reading.

m
molly
Jul 16, 2014

Wonderful read

j
johncruse
Jun 28, 2014

Pointless rambling.

b
bixby
Jun 17, 2014

Colum McCann's imagery is beautiful... describing the wind through a room as "interested in the curtains" .... lovely writing!

o
ownedbydoxies
Jan 31, 2014

Excellent. Different stories, all with Ireland in the background, foreground and in-between ground, that intertwine to some degree, but which are painted with such immediacy you can almost smell the peat fires burning.

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PimaLib_LindaG May 08, 2015

“Cynicism is easy. An optimist is a braver cynic.”

PimaLib_LindaG May 08, 2015

“The tunnels of our lives connect, coming to daylight at the oddest moments, and then plunge us into the dark again. We return to the lives of those who have gone before us, a perplexing möbius strip until we come home, eventually, to ourselves.”

PimaLib_LindaG May 08, 2015

“We seldom know what echo our actions will find, but our stories will most certainly outlast us.”

b
bixby
Jun 17, 2014

"The ceilings were low everywhere but the library, as if to force a man to bend down everywhere except near books."
(P. 77, TransAtlantic by Colum McCann)

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b
bixby
Jun 17, 2014

From 1845 to 2012, the connections among a wide-ranging group of families - especially the women, whose lives seem to cross the years and touch each other.

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