Barnacle Love

Patty Osborne

In the linked short stories that make up Barnacle Love by Anthony De Sa (Doubleday), Manuel, a young Portuguese fisherman, boards a ship bound for the Grand Banks, gets lost and then rescued while he’s out in his dory, narrowly misses being arrested and deported, and eventually makes a new life in Toronto, a life that is just as difficult as his life had been at home on the tiny island of San Miguel, but in different ways.

In the early stories, Manuel is strong, handsome and full of confidence that he will succeed in the New World. But as he grows older and his born-in-Canada son takes up the narrative, we see him as an underemployed immigrant who still speaks broken English and who is ultimately disappointed in himself for not living up to the high hopes that surrounded him when he was a golden boy back in San Miguel. While Manuel, who cannot forgive himself, rages (often while drunk), his Canadian children, who have lived such different lives than he has, turn away. They cannot forgive him either.

The stories, which feel like chapters, are narrated by different people and skip back and forth in time and place to create a multi-faceted, well-written and engrossing work.

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