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University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995 - Fiction - 174 pages
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The principal setting for this extraordinary collection is Northern Ireland, specifically Belfast, the center for more than thirty years of fighting between Roman Catholic nationalists and Protestants loyal to the British crown. Cornell is not preoccupied, however, with the details of the war, its bombings and killings, its politics and history. Cornell's characters are strangers to each other, and often to themselves. Though fear and self-consciousness keep them isolated, they hope for some human connection to save them from despair. But salvation - when it comes - proves elusive, undermined by mutual suspicion, conflicting identities, and the constant pressures of daily life: this is a community in which unemployment is rife, where public walls are painted with paramilitary slogans, and where individuals have little control over the world around them. And yet Cornell's characters continue to struggle against despair, imbued with what Camus has called "creative fatalism" - the ability to hope despite helplessness, grief, and the inability to define themselves comfortably in the world.

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This beautifully written collection of stories tells how beleaguered, ordinary folks living in Belfast manage to keep their faith alive and their souls together in the face of very harsh conditions ... Read full review


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