>An Irishman in Texas, alone, wants to reach out to his former lover but feels he can’t. He recalls the time six years earlier when, alone in New York, he flew home to Ireland to be with his mother—with whom he had a distant, cold relationship that he struggled always to understand—as she lay dying. This is a man who knows he is unapproachable and he knows where he gets it, and yet he can’t do anything about it.
“My brother and I learned not to trust anyone. We learned then not to talk about things that mattered to us, and we stuck to this, as much as we could, with a sort of grim stubborn pride, all our lives, as though it were a skill. But you know that, don’t you? I do not need to call you to tell you that.”
This is a touching, internal story that I enjoyed. The retrospective feeling of the story is apt, even though this character has changed little, it seems, from the man he was only six years earlier. He has some greater understanding about himself, I suppose. I’d like to see him again in a few years, to see if he has managed to overcome his self-repression. This is, I think, one of the year’s best stories so far.
May 7, 2007: “One Minus One” by Colm Tóibín