Thirteen Ways of Looking: Fiction - Colum McCann

This month I am reading a couple of books from familiar authors. After reading Songdogs, Transatlantic and Let The Great World Spin, I had high hopes for this set of three stories and a novella. The form was interesting, as the three stories were unrelated, but each stood on its own as the story of a life laid bare. If my rating did not already kill the suspense, I will tell you, I was not disappointed.


McCann’s gift is the unique clarity he brings to his stories, and he achieves this by telling them from a variety of viewpoints. In each book I’ve read, that theme is realized in a slightly different way. He is dealing with some heavy issues here, and he offers personal insight on this, having suffered a brutal attack last year. He includes letters about this in the book, and additional information on his website, which I recommend reading. Taken in context with the stories, they offer a compelling statement on the senseless violence that seems to pervade society as of late.


Despite the harsh themes, McCann’s lyrical voice carries this volume to a satisfying, thought-provoking conclusion. You will breathe a sigh of relief when it is over, and, as the tension runs out of your body, (if you are like me) you will add another Colum McCann book to your to-read pile. Let me know if you have a particular favorite I should try.