"Transatlantic" by Colum McCann (podcast read by author, 53 minutes, April 16, 2012)
Free Breakfast for All
The Irish Quarter: A Celebration of the Irish Short Story
March 11 to July 1
Please consider joining us for Irish Short Story Week Year Two. Everything you need to participate is on the resources page, including links to 1000s of short stories, from brand new ones to stories now in the public domain. Guests posts are also welcome. If you have any suggestions or questions please leave a comment or send me an e-mail.
Colum McCann (Dublin, 1965) is one of the most famous of contemporary Irish writers. He is best known for his post 9/11 novel, Let the Great World Spin. I have previously posted on one of his short stories, "Aisling". My main reason for posting on this story is to let readers of The Reading Life know that you listen to the author read the story on the fiction podcast of The New Yorker. This maybe the only free opportunity to experience his work.
I really enjoyed this story. It is about the first transatlantic flight. As the story opens we learn about the two pilots who will make the flight. Both were participants in World War One and suffered terribly. Both loved planes and flying pretty much more than anything else. Back then you had to be a great mechanic to fly and you needed great courage. There is a contest with a ten thousand pound prize for whoever makes the first flight across the Atlantic. There are a number of people getting planes ready to try. The worse possibility is that the prize might be won by a German who was a long range bomber pilot during the war.
We get to know both men well. They are based on real figures. We are there when they put the plane together and for sure, McCann has done a beautiful job with this, we are there on the terribly hard very long flight from the USA to Ireland. It felt totally real to me when the men froze, when the plane began to fall apart and when they thought they were going down into the Atlantic. There is also a mother daughter team of reporters, not real, that are a lot of fun and add value to the story. This is really a joyous life affirming story about two men doing what they love.
You can listen to the story here