Gods and Angels
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A seventeen-year-old boy visits his estranged mother on Boxing Day in a grey seaside town; a university lecturer falls in with a group of older men who inhabit a very different world while trying to learn how to swim; a detective breaks into his former home to spy on his estranged family; a couple reflect on twenty-five years of marriage under the Northern Lights; and an old man volunteering in a charity shop forms a tender bond with a young single mother.
Bringing together deeply affecting stories exploring masculinity, loneliness, isolation, and longing, this is a masterful collection from one of Ireland's finest writers.
brings him. But he sits in the same chair with the same drink and the same glass of white wine waiting for her. Today the predictability irks her and she thinks of telling him before they go to the room but knows it would be an unkindness and an insensitive indiscretion in this public place. Afterwards he lolls across the furthest frontier of the bed as if embarrassed by his deep desire to sleep. She watches the smooth stretch of his back, the thin swathe of freckles that stipple his shoulders,
opened I caught a brief glimpse of a woman’s face – she might have been Chinese – and then without asking for my help he humped the mattress out of the back of the van and slalomed it into the hall before the door closed again. After five minutes he returned and we didn’t speak during the rest of the journey. A week later I got a note from the English Department secretary asking me to return a call. On the way to the library I used my mobile and found myself talking to Eddie. ‘Listen, Henry,
had grown a beard – I’m not sure if he had made a conscious decision to grow it or he had simply stopped shaving but it made him look different and I didn’t know if that was good or not. Charlene was standing at the front door waving to us like she was seeing her boy off on his first day at school – I guess the weekend break was as much for her as him – and as we waved back I tried to catch some change in Terry’s expression but he’s a professional and there wasn’t a flicker of anything even
felt as if we were leaving him behind and every minute threw up a new welter of disturbing images. When eventually we got ashore we split up and shouting his name headed in different directions. I was the one who found him. He was sitting on the grass in front of something that looked like the ruins of a church, under a row of stone-carved faces all of which seemed to be leering down at him. He didn’t look up at me even though he must have seen my approach. His hair was plastered to his head and
risks.’ ‘After a while you’d take the sun for granted and you wouldn’t get the pleasure that a day like this brings.’ ‘You’re probably right,’ she said and as she nodded the light suddenly flecked the colours in her hair into brighter life and burnished the metal stud and earrings. ‘It’s easy to take things for granted.’ I thought of the thirty years of marriage I had shared with Linda and wondered if I had been guilty of that but I couldn’t do so without my head being filled with clichés of