All The Men Are Sleeping

D.R. MacDonald
D.R. MacDonald is known for his short stories of memory and loss set on Cape Breton Island and for his highly praised novel Cape Breton Road, an extended treatment of the same themes. In All the Men Are Sleeping, a selection of stories from the length of his career, MacDonald, whose own family left Cape Breton during the Second World War, documents the strong sense of place that is often paradoxically coupled with a history of economic displacement. That forced trajectory, movingly described in stories like "The Flowers of Bermuda" and "Ideas of North," extends all the way from the island of Iona in northern Scotland to California. Often, as in the title story, which takes the reader inside the consciousness of a woman trapped in a Cape Breton winter, the tender savagery of the Cape Breton environment plays a central role, which allows MacDonald to explore his ideas in a sensual rather than abstract way. MacDonald can be an unsentimental, even austere writer, but his work is not without its humorous moments. In "Whatever's Out There," a woman recalls her aging ex-husband "wringing his thinning gray hair into a ponytail that gave to his face the strained profile of a hood ornament." These stories reveal the depth of MacDonald's craft as well as his intimate familiarity with his material. --Robyn Gillam

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