Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Boat - A Short Story by Alistair MacLeod - 1968

The Boat - A Short Story by Alistair MacLeod - 1968

Join in with Buried in Print for A read along through The Short Stories of Alistair MacLeod. 

Schedule for the Alistair MacLeod Read Along 

Audio book of The Boat

Buried in Print’s Post on The Boat

For almost four years i read along with Buried in Print through The Short Stories of Mavis Gallant. I was able to read and post on about half of her two hundred or so stories.  It was a great Reading Life experience which also gave me a sense of accomplishment.  Plus it was a lot of fun to folllow along with Buried in Print. Now we begin a new read along on a writer new to me, Alistair MacLeod.

Alastair MacLeod

July 26, 1936 - North Battleford, Canada

April 20, 2014 - Windsor, Canada

Like much of his work “The Boat” is set in the rugged Cape Breton area.

  It is a very sad story, close to pain.  It centers on a family of nine.  They are Six daughters, a son the narrator and at fifteen youngest child, the wife and mother, and her husband.  He supports the family through fishing from his boat.  He likes reading everything from detective stories to Dickens and Hardy.  His wife says reading is a waste of time. He has his own room and it looks like intimate relations ended years ago.

The story is very much about how the family’s life is shaped by tradition.  The wife has contempt for tourists, anyone not “our people”.  Their  six daughters have no interest in becoming the wives of fishermen,


They read In the large book collection of their father.  When they marry men from New York City, Toronto or Boston they send him books.  The mother has contempt for her son in laws as not our kind.  

Only the son stays loyal.  The ending is tragic.

Something deep is being said about the love of reading in this story.

And also the hatred of reading.

Mel u



Buried In Print said...

This is going to be a much shorter project, so you'll have that sense of accomplishment even sooner this time! (If you decide to keep reading MacLeod...I know at least one of the stories is going to be a real heart breaker for you. Part of me wants to warn you about it now. But another part of me would rather not think about it!)

It's great that you were able to find an audio version of the story. Also, very helpful that you've included a map. Great idea. I should have thought of that.

The ending is just so sudden and, yet, as you think back on the story, you realize that of course it was going to end that way. The event is less dramatic than the descriptions, I think. And how all the elements of those final lines mix together--that's what really got me. Also, how simple the language is, in describing things. But it doesn't need to be fancy.

The next one is not so obviously sad. But still nostalgic and leaves you with a bit of an ache. Nothing like "The Boat" case you were worried! :)

Mel u said...

Buried in Print. I think the location map will help my South and South East Asian readers. I do plan to read along in full but maybe you can warn me in advance on the one story.

Buried In Print said...

I'll make a note to warn you! :)