“Thirteen Ways of Looking” is the novella headlining this collection where it is joined by three much shorter stories. Although the subject matter of each is different, they all share a number of characteristics like tone, voice and style. More importantly, they also have in common the fact that they are really well-written.
I admit to being slightly annoyed by two pieces of minutiae – at one point the use of ‘amount’ rather than the correct ‘number’, and the spelling of ‘ocher’ rather than ‘ochre’ (you’d like to think a Dublin man would stick to English-English…) – though I didn’t let either of these didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book!
There is a satisfying pace in all of these stories, and McCann successfully builds tension – perhaps especially in the title piece and “Sh’khol”. Taken all the various attributes in the round, I would imagine it entirely possible to sit and devour the whole collection in one go.
Perhaps the greatest compliment one can pay to reading something from an author for the first time is a desire to go back in the water again. And I’ve already ordered my next volume…