Slipping the Moorings

Entasis Press | 2009

Slipping the Moorings

The nine stories of Slipping the Moorings move effortlessly over a variety of landscapes, and span the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries: from belle époque New York to the contemporary art scene in London, from a Day of the Dead celebration in post-revolutionary Mexico to visiting day at a Glasgow prison, from the hereditary crofts of Scotland’s rugged west coast to hockey season in Montreal. Each story contains vivid portraits of characters attempting to navigate their daily lives, which are reefed with turbulent relationships and misunderstood intentions. McCallum-Smith provides a moving glimpse, according to the critic Frank Wilson, of “the heartbreak at the heart of things.”

“A tough and funny talent of the first order… there are nods to John Cheever, Jorge Luis Borges, and even Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, but each with a darker palate and a sharper edge to them. The trouble is these comparisons don’t do McCallum-Smith justice…behind the dark atmosphere of a few of her plots, wild laughter lurks, waiting to burst out. I want to compare these stories to both the Westerns and crime novels of Elmore Leonard, probably our best novelist these days, but fear that will jar prospective readers who shrink from those genres without realizing how great Leonard is as a creator of memorable characters and astonishing dialogue. McCallum-Smith is that good.” —James Srodes, The Washington Times

“She has an astonishing range, a devilishly clever wit, and an extraordinary ability to illuminate the varieties of human predicaments. Each story in Slipping the Moorings offers a fresh surprise.” Lynne Sharon Schwartz, author of Leaving Brooklyn and Disturbances in the Field

“The stories in this collection vibrate with a kind of perfection that is beyond rare in literature today.” Aimee Liu, author of Flash House

“It is not conjecture to say if McCallum-Smith wrote a story about ice cubes melting I would read it.” Jen Michalski, jmww