Everything in This Country Must/Colum McCann

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ivy Goodman—writer, teacher, and quite loved friend—sent me a book over the holidays.

She does things like that. 

Every book that Ivy has ever sent has been considered, right.  Most of the time these are books that I hadn't known I needed.  Often, they make the trip to my classroom at Penn.  This newest one, The Granta Book of the Irish Short Story edited and introduced by Anne Enright, is no exception.

Last night—too tired to write, too early for bed—I turned to Ivy's gift and thumbed through toward the end, where Colum McCann, a writerly hero of mine, has a very short piece titled "Everything in This Country Must."  The first lines sound like nothing he has ever written, and for the sound of this story alone, it must be read.
A summer flood came and our draft horse got caught in the river. The river smashed against stones and the sound of it to me was like the turning of locks. It was silage time and the water smelled of grass. The draft horse, Father's favourite, had stepped in the river for a sniff maybe and she was caught, couldn't move, her foreleg trapped between rocks.  Father found her and called Katie! above the wailing of the rain. I was in the barn waiting for drips on my tongue from the ceiling hole.  
But there's far more than mere style in this brief McCann tale.  There's brilliance.  There's devastation.  It's the sort of story that feeds a hungry mind for a week.  I keep returning to it. 


Ann Green said...

His collection of the same name is equally brilliant, and I have taught it when I have taught the Northern Ireland class that takes students to Belfast and environs to talk about the troubles and explore the peace process. That story though--those images--stayed with me for days.

Lilian Nattel said...

Wonderful excerpt--I want the whole story now.

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