Mama's Boy

Article excerpt

CoLm Tóibín's new short-story collection probes the significance of what isn't said.

"I always wanted to be a fiction writer, but I didn't think it would be possible," says Irish author Colm Tóibín, whose story collection Mothers and Sons was recently released by Scribner.

Though today he is an internationally known author who's been short-listed twice for the prestigious Booker Prize, Tóibín's first novel took over two years to get published. To support himself Tóibín wrote for magazines, which helped him hone his spare, efficient prose. "As a journalist you become constantly aware that this sentence is to be read by somebody," he says. "It's not there for its own beauty or satisfaction."

After his breakthrough novel, The Blackwater Lightship, and subsequent critical success, The Master, life has changed financially for Tóibín, 51, but the process of writing remains the same. "I still have to write sentences," he says. "It's about staying in your pajamas at lunchtime."

The stories in Mothers and Sons were written over two decadesone dates back to when the author was only 27-and describe characters incapable of confronting their broken lives. …