February's book will be the Lambda award winning book of short stories The Empty Family by Colm Tóibín.
Allow me to rave. Like his last two stunning novels, The Master and Brooklyn, the triple trinity of stories in Colm Toibin's new collection, The Empty Family, are at once elegiac and elegant. They are composed with a patient, quiet, utterly honest accrual of sparing detail (though punctuated occasionally by graphic gay sex, always more grave than frolicsome). They offer mesmerizing portraits of exile and regret, deep estrangement and emotional reticence that lead to profound yet not altogether unwanted solitude.
His characters are often middle-aged Irishmen who have left home with no desire to return again; by the time they do, it's frequently for the death of a close relative, to "a landscape of endings," empty houses, and "sad echoes and dim feelings."
Many have severed attachments not just with unhappy childhoods but with lost, less than perfect loves. Like Henry James, whom he profiled so vividly in The Master (and who appears in the masterfully multilayered story "Silence"), and like the young woman caught between two worlds in Brooklyn, they're a lonely lot, these characters. Yet for all that, aside from some twinges of regret, they prefer to maintain their distances, feeling better off protected by their emotional moats.