Book - 2013
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Emily Ehrlich watches as two young airmen, Alcock and Brown, emerge from the carnage of World War One to pilot the very first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to the west of Ireland. Among the mail being carried on the aircraft is a letter which will not be opened for almost one hundred years. 1998. Senator George Mitchell criss-crosses the ocean in search of an elusive Irish peace. How many more bereaved mothers and grandmothers must he meet before an agreement can be reached? ?. Frederick Douglass, a black American slave, lands in Ireland to champion ideas of democracy and freedom, only to find a famine unfurling at his feet. On his travels he inspires a young maid to travel to New York to embrace a free world, but the land does not always fulfill its promises for her. From the violent battlefields of the Civil War to the ice lakes of northern Missouri, it is her youngest daughter Emily who eventually finds her way back to Ireland. Can we cross from the new world to the old? How does the past shape the future? Transatlantic, National Book Award-winning Colum McCann has achieved an outstanding act of literary bravura. Intricately crafted, poetic and deeply affecting it weaves together personal stories to explore the fine line between what is real and what is imagined, and the tangled skein of connections that make up our lives.
Publisher: London : c2013. Bloomsbury,
ISBN: 9781408841280
Branch Call Number: AF M'CAN


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Feb 13, 2016

“The elaborate search for a word, like the turning of a chain handle on a well. Dropping the bucket down the mineshaft of the mind. Taking up empty bucket after empty bucket until finally, at an unexpected moment, it caught hard and had a sudden weight and she raised the word, then delved down into the emptiness once more.” McCann may be describing part of the writing process of one of his characters; but surely he is also revealing his own practice, because he does, indeed, find some very nice and surprising words, not uncommon words but common words uncommonly used. Some examples:
--“She ached her way into bed.”
--“Perhaps the reason for her trip was to unhem herself from routine.”
--“The branches of the trees knit the wind.”
--Early on an overcast day, “the rumor of morning hangs faint on the sky.”
--During a storm, “The wind was demented.”
--A flock of geese descend and “blanket onto the water.”
--In a vacant lot, “the wrapper of a chocolate bar sparred against the wind.”
There are also wonderful phrases and images that make one admire his writing, but gradually his “artfulness” begins to pall, to feel false, a little too self-consciously clever, and we become to aware of the writer, which draws us away from the writing and what is being said. For example: The geese “soared in . . . [looking] as if they were pulling the color out of the sky.” Or here: A toaster pops. “Out hop the slices, like pole-vaulters or prison escapees.”
At times McCann writes with an intensity, a ferocity of words and brilliance of depiction, that often swept me along under a rush of speed, energy, and implacability like one of those massive waves that must threaten and thrill a Pacific surfer. Readers who liked his “Let the Great World Spin” will find a similar use of intertwined but separate “stories” here and will probably approve of this device (with which I have no objection); but this novel, for all the power of its language, the vividness of its descriptions, the poignancy of its subject, still adds up to less than the sum of its parts. And it left me regretful, somewhat melancholy, and surprisingly unmoved.

Nov 26, 2015

Selected for the Logan Central Tuesday Book Club in 2016. For a full list of 2016 selections, see the Logan Central Tuesday Book Club list.

Jul 31, 2015

Book group choice

Oct 30, 2014

'Transatlantic' takes you back and forth between America and Ireland, at three different times periods. The author is a master blending fact and fiction in remarkable prose. The George Mitchell section, giving his thoughts in the lead up to the Good Friday Peace Accords was my favorite part.

Sep 07, 2014

Well written prose and imagery make this book worth reading. The author weaves a compelling story through generations on both sides of the Atlantic.. If you are looking for action, look elsewhere. However this novel is worth the time investment.

Aug 27, 2014

In the early chapters, I wasn't sure where the author was heading, but he did bring it all together very nicely and intelligently. He handled his characters with warmth and caring, while acknowledging their flaws.

Not as ambitious or flamboyant as Let the Great World Spin, one of my favorite novels, but still very worth reading.

Jul 16, 2014

Wonderful read

Jun 28, 2014

Pointless rambling.

Jun 17, 2014

Colum McCann's imagery is beautiful... describing the wind through a room as "interested in the curtains" .... lovely writing!

Jan 31, 2014

Excellent. Different stories, all with Ireland in the background, foreground and in-between ground, that intertwine to some degree, but which are painted with such immediacy you can almost smell the peat fires burning.

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PimaLib_LindaG May 08, 2015

“Cynicism is easy. An optimist is a braver cynic.”

PimaLib_LindaG May 08, 2015

“The tunnels of our lives connect, coming to daylight at the oddest moments, and then plunge us into the dark again. We return to the lives of those who have gone before us, a perplexing möbius strip until we come home, eventually, to ourselves.”

PimaLib_LindaG May 08, 2015

“We seldom know what echo our actions will find, but our stories will most certainly outlast us.”

Jun 17, 2014

"The ceilings were low everywhere but the library, as if to force a man to bend down everywhere except near books."
(P. 77, TransAtlantic by Colum McCann)


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Jun 17, 2014

From 1845 to 2012, the connections among a wide-ranging group of families - especially the women, whose lives seem to cross the years and touch each other.

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