The definitive collection from an Irish literary icon, “one of the masters of the short story” (Newsweek).
In the words of W. B. Yeats, Frank O’Connor “did for Ireland what Chekhov did for Russia.” Anne Tyler, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, described his tales as “encapsulated universes.” This indispensable volume contains the best of his short fiction, from “Guests of the Nation” (adapted into an Obie Award–winning play) to “The Mad Lomasneys” to “First Confession” to “My Oedipus Complex.”
Dublin schoolteacher Ned Keating waves good-bye to a charming girl and to any thoughts of returning to his village home in the lyrical and melancholy “Uprooted.” A boy on an important mission is waylaid by a green-eyed temptress and seeks forgiveness in his mother’s loving arms in “The Man of the House,” a tale that draws on O’Connor’s own difficult childhood. A series of awkward encounters and humorous misunderstandings perfectly encapsulates the complicated legacy of Irish immigration in “Ghosts,” the bittersweet account of an American family’s pilgrimage to the land of their forefathers. In these and dozens of other stories, O’Connor accomplishes the miraculous, laying bare entire lives and histories in the space of a few pages.
As a writer, critic, and teacher, O’Connor elevated the short story to astonishing new heights. This career-spanning anthology, epic in scope yet brimming with small moments and intimate details, is a true pleasure to read from first page to last.