STREETS OF STONE: An Anthology of Glasgow Short Stories by Moira & Hamish Whyte--Eds. Burgess

STREETS OF STONE: An Anthology of Glasgow Short Stories

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Glaswegian novelist William McIlvanney has described Glasgow as ""the city of the stare,"" and that image of a hard, unforgiving city is driven home again and again in these 27 well-crafted, grittily realistic short stories. Streets of Stone begins with a story about neighbors gossiping while a young woman dies of tuberculosis, and ends with the tale of an old man whose entire life is taken up with finding a new pair of shoes--and things don't get a great deal cheerier in between, either. Yet, while almost all of the stories deal with poverty, drunkenness, failed hopes, dashed romances, the collection is not a depressing one; the Glaswegians described herein are full of resiliency and laconic humor, even if their surroundings are grim. In the moving and beautiful ""A Sailing Ship,"" by Edward Gaitens (first published in 1939), a poverty-stricken young man working on the docks during the Depression falls in love with a beautiful ship which allows him to dream of leaving the slums forever. In ""Jenny Stairy's Hat,"" by Margarat Hamilton, a woman's suitor is driven out by her brothers, and her life is ruined, yet she continues, for years, to keep his bowler hat hanging at her door, until the hat loses all meaning as a thing in itself, and becomes a symbol of her life. And, in what is probably the best story in the book (""The Rain Dance,"" by Alan Spence), a Protestant boy marries a Catholic girl, and despite the misgivings of both sets of parents, the wedding turns out to be a funny, drunken lark, with the girl's father Finally putting on an Indian headdress and doing an inebriated dance of exorcism when a censorious priest comes to call. Finally, there's the brief but hilarious ""Mr. Endrews Speaks,"" by Tom Leonard, in which a new headmaster gives an address which shows he has absolutely no illusions about his pupils: ""Most of you will be in the hends of the Glesgow constebulary before very long, end some of you will no doubt make your appearance in the High Court on a charge of murder. Now I want you to hey the honor of St. Kevin Barrys in mind when you plead guilty. . . I want you all to say 'Guilty,' in a clear, well-mannered voice, with no trace of slovenly speech."" A few of the stories are overly sentimentalized, and some of the experiments with Glaswegian dialect are almost incomprehensible, but, all in all, a finely-tuned and moving collection.

Pub Date: Nov. 26th, 1985
Publisher: Salamander Press--dist. by Merrimack