Colum McCann || Transatlantic

The first two chapters of Transatlantic I tried to read in bed, and failed. I fell asleep after having read one or two pages. So I decided to give the novel a second chance: one hour in the morning and evening on my way to work in the train. I do not know whether the different circumstances contributed to the fact that I finally made headway in the novel or the fact that I had ended up in chapter 3. In the first chapter we are told the story of two brave men conquering the ocean in their flimsy aircraft, in the second that of a free black man trying to raise money for his cause in Ireland. For some kind of reason the short almost staccato sentences and the aloofness in those chapters did not work for me. In the 3rd McCann found a different rhythm and his story went from ‘important, life-changing’ to ‘small, ordinary, only important in the eyes of the beholders’. In the 3rd story McCann combines the efforts of an American senator in the Irish peace talks with his longing for his family. From the 4th story on the Ehrlichs, who have occurred in all the other stories, become the main protagonists. I really loved the story of Lily Ehrlich who traveled to the States from Ireland in the years of potato blight and hunger. Her pain, exhaustion, sorrow, success and happiness paint a pretty picture of an ‘ordinary’ Irish immigrant, just as the lives of her children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. McCann tells a sober tale of the fortunes and misfortunes of a family. Ireland is a central fact in all the tales, whether it was the country one Ehrlich fled from, the country another married into, the country and its difficulties causing the death of a young boy or the green, rainy landscape. The more Irish the novel the more I loved it. Looking back I am not surprised I fell asleep with the more aloof parts of the novel, I am glad I gave Transatlantic a chance on the train. I would have missed the more poetic and subdued part of the novel otherwise.

transatlantic

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About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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One Response to Colum McCann || Transatlantic

  1. Col says:

    I’ve not read this yet though it is in the waiting pile! I’d read his novel Dancer a few years ago, a fictionalised account of Nureyev’s life and loved his style of writing but then read Let The Great World Spin and found it a bit hit and miss for me!

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