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Saints and Sinners by Edna O'Brien

Saints and Sinners (2011)

by Edna O'Brien

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Cover blurb: "Edna O'Brien writes the most beautiful, aching stories of any writer, anywhere." -Alice Munro

There are some moments, or perhaps they are mere seconds, that stay in the deep freeze of the mind forever. ("Madame Cassandra," 67)

She insisted that literature was a precursor to sin and damnation, whereas I believed it was the only alchemy there was. ("My Two Mothers," 204)

Her letters were deeper, sadder than I had remembered, but what struck me most was their hunger and their thirst. Here was a woman desperately trying to explain herself and to be understood. (206)

He had the native's mistrust of the outsider. ("Old Wounds," 228) ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 18, 2019 |
A selection of short stories, narrated by a lovely Irish accent. I wasn't always sure when these stories were set, they felt to be older but there was little that would actually allow you to pin anything down. Mostly set in rural Ireland, there is a relaxed and unhurried pace to these, at times this is at odds with the story content, at others it matches beautifully. Few of the stories were greatly plot driven, most were as much an internal dialogue as a narration of events. There were few happy endings, in fact few of the stories had endings at all, some reached some sort of conclusion, but most left you and the participants in an unresolved state. Much like life, I suppose.
As to the title, I'm not sure that any of the people featured were entirely a saint or a sinner, those who were good still had their darkness, those who were bad had some redeeming quality. This was enjoyable in a slightly understated, mildly melancholic kind of way. ( )
  Helenliz | Dec 6, 2018 |
This collection of short stories is rather bleak: there are no happy endings for the characters, and for some, there are no endings at all. The settings move from Dublin to London to New York and back to the Irish countryside. Dashed hopes, sad memories, aimless wandering, impossible dreams, broken relationships, the mouldering past--this is the stuff that O'Brien's stories are made of. The writing itself is melancholy, precise, and quite beautiful, and although few of the characters are what one might call likable, the author gives us sufficient insight into their lives and minds to understand and empathize with them.

I listened to Saints and Sinners on audio. Suzanne Bertish is the perfect reader for this rather bleak collections. ( )
1 vote Cariola | Oct 15, 2016 |
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For my friend Luke Dodd
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316122726, Paperback)

With her inimitable gift for describing the workings of the heart and mind, Edna O'Brien introduces us to a vivid new cast of restless, searching people who-whether in the Irish countryside or London or New York-remind us of our own humanity.

In "Send My Roots Rain," Miss Gilhooley, a librarian, waits in the lobby of a posh Dublin hotel-expecting to meet a celebrated poet while reflecting on the great love who disappointed her. The Irish workers of "The Shovel Kings" have pipe dreams of becoming millionaires in London, but long for their quickly changing homeland-exiles in both places. "Green Georgette" is a searing anatomy of class, through the eyes of a little girl; "Old Wounds" illuminates the importance of family and memory in old age. In language that is always bold and vital, Edna O'Brien pays tribute to the universal forces that rule our lives.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:35 -0400)

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Collects short stories depicting restless, searching people set in Dublin, London, and New York.

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