Bringing Tony Home

Bringing Tony Home

by Tissa Abeysekara


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Set in the 1940s and 1960s, Bringing Tony Home is a masterful modern example of a timeless genre, the bildungsroman. In the title novella, a boy returns to his old home to find Tony, his beloved dog who was abandoned when economic circumstances forced the family to leave. “Bringing Tony Home” recounts this perilous journey in detail, movingly tracing the boy’s rescue attempts and his spiraling emotions as he endures changes occurring in his family. In “Elsewhere: Something Like a Love Story,” a young boy finds forbidden love with a schoolmate scorned for her poverty. “Elsewhere” continues their saga, touching on the bittersweet memories they share as adults, and on the woman’s increasingly precarious place in a society concerned only with status. The other stories, “Poor Young Man: A Requiem” and “Hark, The Moaning Pond: A Grandmother’s Tale,” delve into a young man’s relationship with his father as the latter’s fortunes fade, and into the now-mature man’s attempts to come to grips with the death of his grandmother and what she symbolized. Abeysekara’s ability to evoke the sights and sounds of another time and place, and his skill in rendering the inner lives of his characters, make Bringing Tony Home a remarkable read.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781556437571
Publisher: North Atlantic Books
Publication date: 11/25/2008
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Tissa Abeysekara began writing fiction in his native Sinhala, Sri Lanka, in the late 1950s. Also one of the country’s most respected screenwriters and directors, he is the author of In My Kingdom of the Sun; The Holy Peak; Roots, Reflections and Reminiscences; and other books. He lives in Rajagiriya, Sri Lanka.

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Bringing Tony Home 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
rocketjk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read these four novellas one at a time over a period of a few months. The four stories represent four variations on a single theme: They're all reveries presenting an adult protagonist returning to his childhood home in search of some elusive component of his younger self. Each story is told as a pastiche of floating recollections, moving back and forth in time, often settling on the same spot several times, ultimately creating a wavering thread of longing and regret connecting the realities of adulthood and the unreachable events of the past. In most of the stories, the rural setting of childhood has been paved and built over by an intrusive modern world.A childhood pet, a man's recollections of a strained relationship with his father, an early, regretted love and a search for the history of a beloved grandmother, long since dead, form the quadrangle of concerns that buttress the collection's recurrent themes. Another repeating theme is the way in which the lies adults tell their children help erode our feelings of trust and security at an early age, and represent to the child a far greater betrayal then most adults ever suspect.The stories are all good, but I'm glad I didn't read them all straight through, as I believe they would have come to seem repetitive. The title story, about a man's sorrowful memories of the dog he owned as a young boy, is by far the strongest. It's really quite a jewel. But it doesn't help the rest of the collection that this story is presented first.All in all, I am left with the feeling that there is a lot of insight and beauty here.
CBJames on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I tried to read this book a couple of times. Both times I became bogged down in description and rather flowery prose that took much too long to say what needed to be said. There may be rewards in store for those who finish the long first story in the book. Unfortunately, I didn't make. I hope Tony had a happy ending.
jsiegcola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Bringing Tony Home", a title from one of the main short stories in this collection by Sri Lankan writer and filmmaker Tissa Abeysekara, was rather a long tedious exercise. Though I appreciate the author's need to set the time and place in such meticulous fashion, probably stemming from his camera eye's perspective, I found reading his descriptions almost impossible without losing a sense of the story. I believe most of the stories in his book were autobiographical, and I would have loved to delve into more of them, but the title story was so exhausting to read that I will never know the rest of his tales. I will look forward to a visual retelling sometime in the future, I hope.
TimBazzett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book a rather tough nut to crack, and I think part of my difficulty was simply a cultural divide. Sri Lanka is a long way from Michigan, after all. But my biggest problem was with the density of the descriptions and the impossibly long run-on sentences, particularly in the title story, "Bringing Tony Home." There was, I thought, a kind of "bait and switch" at work here, both in the title and in the cover picture of a dog. Because when people read about a little boy looking for his dog left behind in a family move (of decidedly downward social mobility), they quite naturally think, oh boy, a good "dog story." But it's not. There is, in fact, precious little here about poor Tony the dog. No, this is a very thinly disguised memoir of Abeysekara's boyhood, which was not, apparently, a very easy or happy one. And the story itself - what there is of it - is very nearly strangled by the very "details" that author Michael Ondaatje praises in a cover blurb. The one story of the book's four which I found most accessible was "Elsewhere," a moving tale of adolescent sexual awakening and then adult disappointments, serial marriages and adultery. In this story, which shifts skillfully and easily back and forth between past and present, there were fewer irrelevant details to detract from the story. I wished "Elsewhere" had been longer and had been more central to the book, because it was the only piece which successfully sustained my interest. Bringing Tony Home is not a bad book, but neither is it one I could heartily recommend to the casual American reader. As I said earlier, it could be a cultural thing, but I have read many books set in other countries and found most of them much more accessible than this one.
saratoga99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I survived the reading of this book only because I needed to know what the narrator felt at the end of his journey to his past. Only 224 pages long, constant attention was essential to capture the nuances of the Sri Lankan culture, remember the times frames, and yet at times, lay the book to rest, exhausted by its words. The interrelated stories offer vivid, though somewhat streaming descriptions of landscapes interlaced with family, friends, enemies, and begin with his dog Tony. As his family descends from the stature that wealth in this culture brings, the narrator experiences his first bitter taste of loss: his dog Tony. It was difficult to read of his extreme efforts to regain his dog, only to realize, memories attached to Tony would no longer grow pleasantly in his new environment, so he releases the dog to his own destiny.Each story offers a glimpse not only of his memories, but also his reaction to the differences that have transpired since he last travelled from the present to the past. Beautifully written and embellished with personal ambiance, this author has demonstrated a highly emotional level of style in his remembrance of one man¿s journey to revisit his childhood.
ladynole35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received two copies of this book from early reviewers and I have to say I didn't finish it. I have only not finished two other books in my life. The first story about the boy and his dog was okay but like the previous reviewer, I am a dog person also. It just wasn't for me.
Librtea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Bringing Tony Home, by Tissa Abeysekara is a collection of four interrelated stories set in Sri Lanka. Each story may be read and enjoyed individually, but read together they provide a broader perspective and deeper understanding of the main character, who narrates the stories. The narrator recounts key periods in his life ¿ his life as a child, as a young adult, and as a man. His stories recall memories of family, loss, and growing up; events that influenced the person he would become. By recalling these memories and examining them to try and separate things real and imagined, the narrator begins to understand himself better. He learns that images from memory are often illusory and constantly changing and yet, no matter how difficult they are to pin down, something true and meaningful can be culled from them. Although I would not have said so after the first several pages, Bringing Tony Home is a richly engaging book. I was initially distracted by so much description of the setting in the first story, and got a bit lost along the Old Road, High Level Road, gravel path, cart track, thick leafy veralu trees, and elbow bends, etc. But the disorientation was short-lived and I was rewarded with a highly original story that I won¿t soon forget. Because the book contains four stories, it seems natural to choose a favorite. I have two: Elsewhere: Something Like a Love Story and Hark, the Moaning Pond: A Grandmother¿s Tale. These are the last two stories in the book. Please don¿t short-change yourself, though. You will want to read the book cover to cover
kvanuska on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Blurb alert: This book carries the following front cover blurb by Michael Ondaatje "...magical portraits that, like all the best tales, capture the forgotten details of a place and age." This blurb will not steer you wrong. If you enjoy the works of Michael Ondaatje, this book is for you. There's also a chicken-egg question here: Are all Sri Lankans who write novels in English born with a liquid rhythm in their prose or does this rhythm somehow arise in English from the rhythms embedded in their natural language? Whatever the answer, this novel's prose wraps round itself and unwinds memories that read like stories, stories that read like memories, and encompasses a Sri Lankan boyhood from the 1940-1950's. For those who have read Ondaatje's memoir, Running in the Family, have no fear of covering the same Sri Lankan landscape; on the contrary, Bringing Tony Home will only enlarge upon it. The title story "Bringing Tony Home" carries a subtitle " A Story in Three Movements." Abeysekara takes what in lesser hands could have been just an exotic "boy loses his dog story" and shakes unique and enthralling lives from its center. After a slight hiccup at the start of the story when Abeysekara relies on his screenplay background to establish an awkard entry into the story's setting, the story settles down and begins to wrap around itself, repeating threads of plot, character, action in different ways, till you've inspected this memory from multiple angles and seen it slightly differently each time. I had an urge to take a slice of this story, put it under a microscope and figure out just how Abeysekara's prose managed to make me feel like I've lived this life so viscerally. Magic is at work here -- I know it. The other stories in this collection "Poor Young Man: A Requiem," Elsewhere: Something Like a Love Story," and "Hark, the Moaning Pond: A Grandmother's Tale" are all equally strong, barely a wrong note struck. Careful attention has been given to the ordering of these stories, a detail I wish more authors would take care to attend to. The final story manages to take all the metaphorical strands and themes of the previous stories and weave them into a gossamar thin, but oh-so-beautiful shawl of memories that you'll be carrying 'round with you long after you close this book.