Colum McCann – Thirteen Ways of Looking

A collection of very different short stories all narrating a decisive moment in the protagonist’s life. The longest and for me most impressing is “Thirteen ways of looking” where we are in the middle of a murder investigation which parallels what has happened immediately before the old man was knocked down. From different angle the detectives look at cameras and the case and dig out well-hidden secrets. “Treaty” is the emotionally most difficult one since we have the perspective of a rape victim who finds her molester and decides to confront him. Also the other two stories “What time is it now, where you are?” and “Sh’khol” have very personal, for the characters edgy stories to tell.

Measured by the author’s artistic skills and his reputation, I admittedly was a bit disappointed. The shallowness I felt might be caused by the text type, short stories do not tend to go too deep. Yet I had the feeling that he could have made more out of the basic ideas behind the stories. He definitely can make a point in the emotional state the characters are in, this is very convincing, but his strength, outlining the impact of the family heritage and descent on the character’s development, does not stand out here.
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