A collection of distinctive, emotionally charged, deeply moving stories chronicling the desperate lives of Cape Breton's maritime population. Now that the tropes of minimalist fiction have begun to come under increasingly hostile attack, it's possible that the time is right for MacLeod. Here is an author who works in powerful, sonorous cadences; creates unironic, sympathetic leads; deals with focused themes; and whose subjects invariably direct attention to matters of the heart. At times bordering on the overly sentimental, MacLeod nonetheless holds his own through the sweep of his prose and the authenticity of his characters' suffering. In the title story, a stranger returns to rural Cape Breton from a big midwestern city to visit a son who will never know him. A son witnesses the drowning of his father in a carefully wrought piece entitled ""The Boat""; and in the elegiac ""Closing Down of Summer,"" a veteran miner comes to terms with the isolation and inevitable suffering of his profession. MacLeod's work has been compared to the regional fiction of Eudora Welty and D.H. Lawrence, but the real analogy here is with John Millington Synge's Celtic idiom. Except for a few brief, topical references, it would be difficult to identify MacLeod's work as contemporary; so much the better--the traditionalism here is oddly appealing.