McGahern's command of the short story places him among the finest practitioners of the form, in a lineage that runs from Chekhov through Joyce and the Anglo-American masters. When the collection was first published in 1992, the Sunday Times said 'there is a vivid pleasure to be had in the reading of these stories,' while for Cressida Connolly in the Evening Standard 'these wonderful stories are sad and true . . . McGahern is undoubtedly a great short story writer.' Many of the stories here are already classics: 'Gold Watch', 'High Ground' and 'Parachutes', among others. McGahern's spare, restrained yet powerfully lyrical language draws meaning from the most ordinary situations, and turns apparently undramatic encounters into profoundly haunting events: a man visits his embittered father with his new wife; an ageing priest remembers a funeral he had attended years before; a boy steals comics from a shop to escape the rain-bound melancholy of a seaside holiday; an ageing teacher, who has escaped a religious order, wastes his life in a rural backwater that he knows he will never leave.