Monday, 2 January 2012


I was slow coming to this. You don’t rush to the book that pipped you to a major literary prize. But then good books have a way of finding you. And so for several nights over the holidays I settled by a fire, with a glass of something, savouring a collection I imagine will become a favourite.

The stories in Touch are bestowed with a poet’s precision. Beautifully crafted worlds, rich with nature’s rhythms, its chords and hues, unspool with a masterly resonance, a cadence that only the sheerest affection for words and their power allows. Meditations on the enduring human truths form, yet never at the expense of the unfurling narratives: familial binds, the gravity of the past, of what can be borne by the heart, and what cannot. Mort is expert in implying something’s presence, in allowing the reader to find their own meaning and hope and delight, to complete the aesthetic journey he so brilliantly sets them on. There is much elegiac here – characters flanked by the ghosts of memory, gripped by loneliness, lives lost to love and the vagaries of fortune – and yet, as with the best stories, there remains a warmth woven through them, an aching beauty, an elegance and grace that is both affecting and comforting. More than that there’s a quiet dignity here.

To read this book is to understand the short story’s potential, its flair to simultaneously give great pleasure and reveal all that is human. I’d wager it’s the best collection of stories in recent years. Probably longer.

You can read Graham's thoughts on the short story in this discussion we had, an interview that led me to Touch.

1 comment:


Sounds great. I was aware of the book but am happy to get your recommendation. Thanks. Nuala