on 27 January 2007
The cover of the recently published hardback edition of John McGahern's 'Creatures of the Earth: New and Selected Stories' is greyish with a lightly coloured picture of the author looking out from it. This book was published in the autumn of 2006: the title story, appearing in print for the first time, was finished and included (along with another story never published before) in a revised selection of short stories, put together by the author shortly before his death last year. The book illustrated alongside the title at the top of this page has a blue cover with no picture and white lettering that describes it as John McGahern's 'Collected Short Stories' and is a different, much earlier publication first publlished in 1992 and containing many of the same stories, but in an unrevised form. I pointed out this confusion after ordering, as I thought, the new book with its title 'Creatures of the Earth', but receiving in response to my order a copy of the 1992 publication. I was thanked for my message, but am astonished to find the same confusing double message in place nearly two months later. While I am unable to speak too highly of the new book, which includes one of the most exquisitely heartbreaking portaits of a good marriage moving into the separation of death - the territory that McGahern was quietly forshadowing in his late novel 'That They May Face The Rising Sun' - I cannot do so without warning prospective readers that if you click on this title you may find yourself unwrapping the wrong book!