Thirteen Ways of Looking

Thirteen Ways of Looking


Book - 2015
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In the exuberant title novella, a retired judge reflects on his life's work, unaware as he goes about his daily routines that this particular morning will be his last. In "Sh'khol," a mother spending Christmas alone with her son confronts the unthinkable when he disappears while swimming off the coast near their home in Ireland. In "Treaty," an elderly nun catches a snippet of a news report in which it is revealed that the man who once kidnapped and brutalized her is alive, masquerading as an agent of peace. And in "What Time Is It Now, Where You Are?" a writer constructs a story about a Marine in Afghanistan calling home on New Year's Eve. Deeply personal, subtly subversive, at times harrowing, and indeed funny, yet also full of comfort, Thirteen Ways of Looking is a striking achievement. With unsurpassed empathy for his characters and their inner lives, Colum McCann forges from their stories a profound tribute to our search for meaning and grace. The collection is a rumination on the power of storytelling in a world where language and memory can sometimes falter, but in the end do not fail us, and a contemplation of the healing power of literature.
Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, ©2015
ISBN: 9781443446259
Branch Call Number: MCCANN
Characteristics: 242 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm


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Mar 01, 2018

My new Favorite writer. So glad I discovered him. Great descriptive language.

Jun 20, 2017

Written by the author of one of my favourite books (This Side of Brightness) this is a really strong collection, comprising a novella and three short stories. Each one of them is memorable in its own way.
I often find myself thinking about the editorial decision to select one short story over another in a compilation like this, and whether and how the individual stories contribute to the overarching unity of the collection. These stories, very different though they are, are linked by their exploration of multiple perspectives, the elision of past and present and the contingency of fate. I enjoyed each of them, most particularly the first and final stories. Perhaps it’s because there were only four of them, but each of them is clearly defined in my mind in its own right – something that doesn’t always happen when reading a book of short stories. Or perhaps, as I suspect, it’s because Colum McCann is a very, very good writer.

See my full review at:

Mar 08, 2017

Another Irish writer with a gift for language, great empathy and a sense of humour. Our book club enjoyed a lively discussion.
Jessie May

May 30, 2016

Three stories and a novella fill this volume of luminescent prose.
His writing is so original, getting to the heart of his characters, but surprising readers with every story's end. Oh, the discussions these will stimulate for years to come.

bickjd Feb 26, 2016

Colum McCann consistently comes through with poetic narrative techniques, and unique plotlines. His characters develop quickly, without any sacrifices to their depth.

These stories express great humility and empathy. Giving voices to those who are so often silenced: the beaten, the bereaved, the abused.

check out:
for the Author's Victim Impact Statement, after he was sucker-punched and hospitalized. An event that impacted his life, his work, and brought the two together in a powerful way.

athompson10 Nov 14, 2015

Author has a beautiful light touch with words.

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