The Shining Fragments

When Joseph lay down, he gave in to the silence that replaced the ringing in his head. The nun sat on a chair beside his bed. She was a bird on the ship’s rail and her eye was a perfect circle. She was a granite angel in St. Patrick’s churchyard. She might have had wings. She was the moon’s face drifting across the blanket of night, watching over him.

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The Shining Fragments Robin Blackburn-McBride

Robin Blackburn McBride reads from The Shining Fragments, her upcoming new novel

The Shining Fragments is a family saga about the Irish in Canada that explores the ramifications of abandonment, obsession, love, memory, and visionary power.

Spanning the years 1882-1904, it follows Joseph Conlon from his early childhood in Ulster to his experiences of youth and adulthood as an immigrant. Left behind as a small boy on a Toronto train-station platform like so much forgotten luggage, Joseph grows up in a city bleak with bigotry. He discovers that he has artistic talent and becomes a designer of stained-glass windows.

He is haunted by the spirit of his unborn sister, Annie, and the powerful and often conflicting influences of the women in his life.

Here is a convincing drama of an Irish boy who, after being abandoned in Union Station, seeks to make himself a life. What appealed to me is that the story is uniquely set in a well-researched, turn-of-the-century Toronto. The struggling characters come from all classes and, most important, their dramatic interactions are told with a gripping, compassionate power.

—Wayson Choy, Order of Canada, novelist, memoirist, short-story writer

ROBIN’S INTERVIEWS FOR THE SHINING FRAGMENTS LAUNCH

Interview with Louise H Reid


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