Anne Enright, An Instinct. Let us remind first that Anne Enright is probably best known now by the general public thanks to or because of the boon or doom that the Man Booker Prize represented in when she was awarded that most prestigious token of literary recognition in the English-speaking world for her rather sombre novel The Gathering.
Her collection of short stories The Portable Virgin was published in One should also mention an interesting collection of essays on motherhood entitled Making Babies: Stumbling into Motherhood , which shares some noteworthy thematic features with the short stories under scrutiny here, namely sexuality, humour, love, a quirky sense of everyday life, family.
Most of her short stories can be found in the collection entitled Yesterday's Weather , which gathers most of the stories from The Portable Virgin and those pertaining to the more recent Taking Pictures For her short fiction doubtless remains profoundly marked by feminine voices and a peculiar kind of humour often related to that feminine dimension.
Secondly, her stories all more or less deal with the way one relates to their own expectations from life and conversely their frustrations, and the ensuing comical or derisive deflation at an individual level. This strong, individualized, idiosyncratic flavor does not really allow for the perpetuation of any complacent flamboyant mythologised discourse on Irishness or any given ideology at that. Ireland becomes a local anecdotal though necessary backdrop in her fiction, not a major frontal theme.
To cut a long story short and to use a clear-cut oxymoron, her work is enchantingly disenchanted on an intimate level little compatible with collective simplifications or indictments inherent to nationalist or committed dialectics or their grandiose purple patches. Thirdly, the atmosphere emanating from her short fiction often proves uncanny and unsettling though wryly funny too. This strange dimension is reinforced by her unusual style combining a disjointed chronology and a warped sense of focalization and structure particularly blatant at the beginning of her writing career—as in The Portable Virgin Her writing remains feminine though in all the subtlest and implicit pressures and nuances of the term.
It also, as a rule, features heterosexual couples. The offshoots of the numerous downsides to the misunderstandings between partners are rendered through humour or tender irony as in this baroque list of all the twisted lovers Bridget has met in her life:. She liked sleeping with men. It changed them. There were the fanatics, who had a tight, neurotic smell and undiluted eyes. They talked about death all the time or were severely political. There were the outright freaks: bizarre, hairy or double-jointed men who played the saw on the streets or trained to be anaesthetists; men who hated themselves so badly they might injure themselves if left on their own in a room.
Some respite was provided by the silent brigade: patriarchal countrymen or foreigners, with rings of perspiration under the arms of their shirts and mothers who ascended bodily into heaven. There were the endearingly stupid. Men with beautiful smiles… Portable That main concern for the family unit and for marriage and the question of having kids could easily and stereotypically—thus also arguably—be labeled as feminine in itself. The realm of the body, for instance, is seen as somehow immune to social and gender condition and able to issue forth a pure essence of the feminine.
Such essentialism is difficult to square with feminism which emphasizes femininity as a social construction… One can reasonably assert that they concur with the concept that the experience of women has been singularly shaped and conditioned by gender—that the latter concept should still be a controversial social construct arguably based on and poorly reflecting complex biological facts does not even matter.
I thought the most terrible thing about middle age would be marriage […] Worst of all the women in my early stories have children and say that the experience has not changed them. How wrong can you be? It is interesting but only in a sociological way , to see the sympathy two of my narrators have for men who have just lost their virginity. It is odd but only to me, to read of the bitterness that exists between female friends […].
This gift [collection] is presented not just to the reader, but also to the future—in my case, to an old woman called Anne Enright… Yesterday ix-x, my emphasis. But clearly in the short story, this dimension is purely anecdotal and reinforces the shallow, unlikely, unreliable, pseudo-exotic, even disgusting, aspect of this male character. The following passage is clear, in a calculatedly awkward comical manner, about the idea that the eye that sees things in the story and the voice which tells it, are those of a White Western heterosexual woman, someone definitely open-minded about culture and sex but still belonging to and illustrating, to an extent, the prevailing norm and its aporias:.
Yesterday Individual problems—love, drugs, marginalization, perversion, isolation, for instance—have therefore superseded collective causes. Now her fiction displays the opposite trend, since the question of Irishness or Irish history no longer seems to be a direct priority, unless on a light-hearted parodic mode.
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And I packed my bag for uni and shook the dust of that damn town off my feet. Most of the women in the collection, though they may feel betrayed, lonely, bored, loved the wrong way, still display the same qualities, namely natural independence and a critical mind. We are people who have sex. Frank fills the glasses and I see it all stretching out ahead of me. But rather than celebrating transgression and libertine love-making, it wryly underlines the enduring ideals and lust for love the characters feel.
Her one-night sexual partner speaks about his own wife in potentially misogynous words:. God I hate that woman. Did you see her? The way she was laughing and all that bloody lip-gloss. After casual sex between exhausted grownups, the image conveyed is that of inescapable helplessness and wry squalid individuated existence. It is through this cunning alliance of irony and disenchanted clear-sightedness that Enright manages to surpass just any parochial or limited bias.
Doing so, she also reveals her enduring paradoxical idealism. The baby […] wiped his nose on her T-shirt. It was just not something she had ever anticipated. Yesterday , my emphasis. It may also prove clearer about her subversive values and her caustic humour. It is great being Catholic. Stumbling As she says:. Finally and quietly I have to apologize to my family […]. Starting with my own mother—whose voice comes though my own from time to time—and working down the generations.
BRAVO, IFC & SUNDANCE IN PRIMETIME
Like all women who write about their children, I have a wonderful partner—except in my case it is true. Offaly and Crossmolina co. Mayo are mentioned to refer satirically to the Irish countryside. Successor to the BMW New Class, it has been produced in five different generations and in no less than five different body styles. They are one of the systems used for speed limit enforcement in the United Kingdom.
In the Gregorian calendar, it was the th year of the Common Era, or of Anno Domini; the 6th year of the 3rd millennium and of the 21st century; and the 7th of the s decade. The discography of Dr. Dre, an American record producer and rapper, consists of two studio albums, 12 singles, and six compilation albums. We like to stretch our minds when we tra vel and there seem to be very few opportunities.
We subscribe to the New York Times pretty much exclusively for the Crossword page. Thanks and hope you will do more for those readers who appreciate an intellectual challenge or two along the way. A - The best of the cruises for Crossword fanatics i s always offered by Cunard. It is being referred to as "The Crossword Crossing. Although you are late for this year's sailing, it is expected to be repeated in the future. Several Times Crossword pages editors will be on-board including famed, some might say notoriously difficult, puzzle master Will Shortz.
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