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Cal by [MacLaverty, Bernard]
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Cal Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Length: 168 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Review

"Simple humanity, eloquently caught....Though Cal is a bleak novel, there is a flicker of lyricism running through it, like the sun shining through the shattered windows of a ruined church" (New York Times)

"To fashion a short, telling novel out of the hideous complexities of Northern Ireland takes narrative skill of a high order. In Cal Bernard MacLaverty has managed to do it superbly" (Nina Bawden)

"It performs the remarkable feat of compressing into its short span both a doomed love affair and an account of the impossibility of living, in the circumstances of that doomed province, without redemption and without punishment… MacLaverty has a true feeling for tragedy’" (Anita Brookner)

Book Description

A haunting love story set against the grim backdrop of fear and violence in Northern Ireland.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1336 KB
  • Print Length: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital; New Ed edition (1 Mar. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004PGNGYM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #92,552 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Set in war-torn Northern Ireland in a hard-pressed Protestant district, MacLaverty's Cal mixes the somehow predictable love affair between representatives of opposing sides with the tragedy of the political situation. Though some simplification in the development of the content might cause reserve with the trained reader, the author does succeed both in keeping the outward tension going as well as in building up acceptably to the inevitability of making the best of both worlds.
From ample (classroom) experience, I hold the view that any reader can benefit by this short novel, which draws from the author's authentic experience. Cal deserves a place alongside with other works dealing with inevitably continuing conflict where prejudice leaves an unbridgeable social and emotional gap. A most satisfactory read, and an early promise of such top-quality successors as Grace Notes. (Not untypically, the quality of the book exceeds the one of the film by far.)
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By Officer Dibble VINE VOICE on 22 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The elements that deal with ordinary life in the Troubles are convincing and make this a worthwhile insight. It should be good as Mr MacLaverty has the personal experience to draw on. A very good description of working class life. Think 'Kes' but without the AK47s.

There are some moments of jaw-dropping, jet-black humour as Cal waits each night to be fire-bombed out of his home. The effect on the community and Cal's familiy of all the violence and hatred is chillingly effective including a memorable line about Cal's father turning from iron into plasticine There are many moral questions implicit in all the Troubles stuff but in this short book it is often easier not to dwell.

Unfortunately, the 'love story' elements just don't ring true. Another reviewer described them as 'toe-curling' which is not far off the mark. As a result, I liked the book but I didn't believe in it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A brilliant book. Bought it after reading an extract in a creative writing workbook. It shows a lot of the confusion and problems of wrestling with loyalty in the times of the troubles. From this very personal story we can get a real sense of how it all affected normal people, and a sense of national from individual. A love story and a political window. Also, as it is set a few decades ago it's quite nostalgic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On being set the book Cal by my uni lecturer I thought, oh god, not again!!! I had read it many years ago at school and didn't relish the prospect of doing it again!! The only upside for me was at least i could rely on Amazon having it at a good price. When I received Cal I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I got into the storyline again, Bernard Maclaverty brings to life the troubles in Ireland and the characters jump off the page, almost as if you are there beside them. There are tender moments between the two main characters and you will everything to end well, but will it? Well you have to buy the book to find out, I promise you it is worth it.
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Format: Paperback
First published in 1983 this novel, set in Northern Ireland, outside Belfast, is almost historical. Taking place during 'the troubles' and before the 'peace process' this is the story of Cal a nineteen year old unemployed youth, unemployed because he couldn't stomach the job his father got him in the local abbatoir. Cal and his father are the last Catholic family on a Protestant housing estate and are being victimised. Without condoning the violence, the reader begins to understand how a person could get wrapped up in the religious bigotry surrounding them, sympathises with Cal's boredom, his bullying colleagues and his life-long fears.

He washed his hair while sitting in the bath, pouring jugfuls of water over his head. With his eyes closed against soap and cascading water he felt very vulnerable. What if someone were to burst into the bathroom now? How easy a target he would be, stark naked, blinded, groping with outstretched arms for a towel. It was a feeling he had had ever since childhood.

Will Cal get more wrapped up in the troubles? Will he and his father be forced to leave the estate? The biggest question comes from Cal's total infatuation with Marcela the local librarian. Will they eventually get together and, what is the reason that Cal finds it so dangerous to be near her? Compare this novel with the worse poverty of, turn of the century Dublin in Roddy Doyle's "A Star Called Henry"
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Format: Paperback
Given that later on MacLaverty matured into the master he now is, perhaps we can forgive him for the way in which he chose to conclude "Cal", with a third-rate love story ending that makes one's toes curl in embarrassment.

The shame is that the first three-quarters of "Cal" is MacLaverty at his best, with the skill to let you, the reader, work out what's going on, rather than tell you. This could have been the great "novel of the Troubles" if he had spent more time on the ending, and been more courageous about finishing it.

If this is your first experience of MacLaverty don't be put off. Move on to his short stories, such as "Matters of Life and Death". He's become one of the best living writers, anywhere.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Cal is the story of a young man caught between the two sides in the long conflict between the IRA and the British in the control of Ulster. Having helped in an assassination of a policeman,
he falls in love with the man's widow. The resulting confusion and anguish are central to the book in which the characters are described in exquisite detail, painting an authentic picture of life in South Armagh at that terrible time
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