Bernard Mac Laverty Alison Weir - Essay

Alison Weir

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Short stories are fashionable and none more welcome than [A Time to Dance and Other Stories] by Bernard Mac Laverty. His tone is sombre, his material human. Without resorting to those Gothic pieces of description that point up the moral in many a story written by his contemporaries, he shows us how tragically cruel we are to one another. Yet Bernard Mac Laverty observes the human race with love and heaps loving detail on each story. Mild though they are, there is infinite satisfaction in the carefully drawn settings and the formation of the characters. Each movement is recorded, from the old men and their aluminium frames (one the unwavering pourer of illicit malt whisky at the old people's day centre to celebrate his eighty-third birthday) to the daily woman's humdrum cleaning of the bathroom, watched obsessively by her employer….

The richness of these stories has much to do with Mac Laverty's skill in hanging together events, detail and meaning: the son in 'Life Drawing', for example, sketching the face of his moribund father who had smashed his boyhood efforts and disowned him for going to art school. There are many, many more; all excellent.

Alison Weir, in a review of "A Time to Dance and Other Stories," in British Book News, October, 1982, p. 641.