The Empty Family –hm. Collection of nine short stories published in
2011. (Just after Brooklyn) Starts with an interesting anecdote by Henry James . . .
and develops it into a good short story. Other stories touch on Ireland or
going back to Ireland. And two take place in Barcelona. Several are gay love
stories, quite graphic, pas pour moi!
But all reveal the carefully collected phrases and words that Tóibín has
chosen to elicit strong emotions–of love, sadness, and loneliness in his characters.
The nine stories are quite different and some are jarring lying next to pages of
the others–so I’m not really enthusiastic about this collection. One reviewer
compared Tóibín’s short stories favorably to William Trevor’s. They both often write
about Ireland and have a similar quiet bent to their work. But I would still prefer
reading William Trevor if I’m asked to compare.
The title–The Empty Family–amuses me a little. Well, it is sad–most of the
stories are sad. What C.T. needs is to meet my own family. Then he could write
more cheerful stuff!